Amy Estes, a California middle school teacher, is receiving support from students across the state after she faced bullying for her sexuality.
Estes teaches 8th grade English at Spring View Middle School. Earlier this year, she took a mental health leave after her students found out she was gay and began harassing and bullying her for it.
‘They posted photos online and it became the talk of the campus,’ she described in a Facebook post. ‘While it is dehumanizing and painful to be outed, my hope was that it would die down. Instead, it escalated to the point that I was being harassed in and out of the classroom.’
She further said the school administration did not support her either.
She continued: ‘As most gay people will tell you, there is a significant amount of shame around being gay, even in 2018. I have ALWAYS felt like the classroom was my place to shine, and instead, it became another place I felt shamed.’
Now she is working with a lawyer from the union to find a solution, whether with the school district or a new job.
In an interview with ABC 10, she said students began following her on YouTube. One person commented with an altered quote from the Mel Brooks comedy The Producers: ‘Don’t be stupid, be a smarty. You can join the Nazi Party. Now accepting dykes.’
Amy Estes, a middle school teacher in the Rocklin Unified School District, says she was bullied by her students after they learned she is gay. Amy is now on mental health leave.
— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) June 8, 2018
Another student said in a presentation on her idea of a Utopian society that one of the laws would be no gay marriage.
LGBTI students come out in support
LGBTI students in the Rocklin school district are now coming out to support Estes.
At the district’s school board meeting, many stepped up to share their own experiences with discrimination and bullying at school. They also expressed their sympathy and support for Estes.
Former student Connor Cook, who says he was bullied for being gay throughout high school, is speaking now at the Rocklin Unified School District's school board meeting. He said he felt compelled to speak tonight to show support for the teacher who was bullied for being gay. pic.twitter.com/887N4OVCiF
— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) June 14, 2018
‘A huge range of bullying took place at Rocklin High School not just to me but a lot of people,’ said Connor Cook, who graduated last year.
‘This ranged from small comments of saying, “That’s gay. You’re gay. That’s gross.” All the way up to to being threatened with violence… and just at some points being told to kill yourself before they do it for you.’
Another student said she brought a pride flag to school. When she did, a yard monitor compared it to a Nazi or Confederate flag.
Other students and parents, however, defended their beliefs.
Averee O’Connor, who did the Utopian society project, and her parents said their beliefs are not hate speech. Rather, they don’t want things ‘pushed on’ students.
Parents whose daughter had the Rocklin teacher who went on mental health leave after being bullied by students when they learned she was gay are now sharing their side of the story. They say they support the district & believe LGBTQ issues should not be addressed in school @ABC10 pic.twitter.com/yRy9lzPT4q
— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) June 13, 2018
Bullying can happen anywhere. A gay teacher in Kansas ended up moving states after receiving threatening letters.
In a more recent Facebook post, Estes wrote: ‘I am focused on remaining committed to the work ahead, to keeping true to being a voice for change, & to staying on the high road no matter how badly I want to unload.’
H/t: ABC 10