An Illinois high school student was placed in a juvenile detention center earlier this week after assaulting a fellow student for bringing a rainbow Pride flag to school.
The assault occurred last Thursday at Southwestern High School in the downstate community of Piasa, Illinois, during what school officials referred to as a “flag-themed” day.
A 17-year-old student brought in a rainbow Pride flag, which prompted another student to tell him to get rid of it. When the teen asked why, the second student ran up and starting punching him in the head while trying to remove the flag by force.
The victim was injured in the altercation, but the extent of their injuries remains unclear. The aggressor was charged with aggravated battery, Macoupin County State’s Attorney Jordan Garrison told the Jacksonville Journal-Courier.
It is unclear whether the act is being considered a hate crime, meaning the student could face bias enhancements, or additional penalties for targeting the victim because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.
Superintendent Kyle Hacke would only confirm that an assault took place on “red, white and blue day,” but declined to go into further detail.
But a number of students at the school seem to side with the student who was arrested and detained, choosing to blame the victim for inciting the incident, according to postings on Facebook and Instagram obtained by the Journal-Courier.
“You wear a gay Pride flag to school and you don’t expect people to do anything? You go to Southern (sic) High, where we support the Confederate flag and you wonder why you get beat up?” wrote one student.
The alleged victim’s brother messaged another Southwestern student on Instagram, asking if he knew what had happened. The student wrote: “Some gay kid brought a gay pride flag in and some kid beat the [expletive] out of him,” followed by two laughing emojis.
When the victim’s brother objected, revealing his relationship to the victim, the student responded: “Well don’t send him in a country ass school wearin’ some gay (expletive) if you don’t want his ass beat.”
A third student told the victim’s brother that the victim had swung first, and placed the blame on the 17-year-old, saying, “It’s disrespectful to wear a pride flag on patriotic day, it’s not queer day.”
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