Recently, things came to a head at the school. According to Melanie Davies, the parent of a friend of Lillis, the same group of peers continued bullying the openly gay high schooler. Her daughter confronted one of the bullies by yelling at him. According to Davies, the bullies shoved her daughter, who shoved them back, and the bully in question then punched her in the face. Davies says she wasn’t notified about the fight even though her daughter later had to go to the emergency room because of a broken nose resulting from the hit.
According to Davies, the school responded to the incident by giving all students involved a five-day suspension that, according to the students, includes missing homecoming. Yes, that includes both Lillis and Davies’s daughter. “The school dropped the ball,” Davies told the outlet.
With that in mind, students at Lee’s Summer High School protested on Monday by holding a walk-out. Lillis told local outlet KSHB that students decided to walk out to “show movement towards our school an[d] administration for the lack of action toward these repeated and multiple events that have been happening to me and my friends.” Lillis added that he’s “terrified” to even enter the school given the recent assault on his friend.
In speaking to local outlet KSN, Lillis said he’s been going to the administration about the bullying since August. “This could’ve been stopped within the first three days of me coming to them,” Lillis stated, adding that he feels the bullying could have been stopped “each and every time.”
So, how did the protest go? According to both news reports and videos shared on social media, it was successful and included folks waving Pride flags and holding up anti-bullying signs outside of the school. The protest lasted for about half an hour and administrators monitored it.
The school district has released a statement promising that they are investigating the bullying incident, though they cite privacy laws in terms of not sharing specific details. “We can share that school and district administrators are conducting an investigation and taking action to ensure the safety of all students and staff,” the statement reads, adding that it is a “top priority” to have an “inclusive culture” for students, staff, and family.
Interestingly, this is not the only time the high school has made national headlines. When else? You might remember that in 2020, the school gained attention when Dennis Carpenter, the district’s first Black superintendent, resigned. Why? Carpenter wanted to make the district more equitable for students of color, including holding diversity training for staff members and teachers, and, somehow, this caused a disturbing amount of tension and issues.
You can check out some brief footage of the protest, as well as an interview with Lillis, below.