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Gay teen brutally beaten and choked by fellow students for wearing a Pride flag

Maggie Baska June 1, 2021
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Tristen Torrez Pride flag attack

Tristen Torrez, 14, was attacked by fellow students at Defiance Middle School in Ohio because he wore a Pride flag on 27 May 2021. (YouTube/WTOL 11)

A gay Ohio middle school student was brutally attacked by other students just because he was wearing a Pride flag.

Tristen Torrez, 14, told local news station WTOL 11 that he had been standing on the bleachers at Defiance Middle School in Defiance, Ohio. He said students were allowed outside on Thursday (27 May) to celebrate the last day of classes. But instead of celebrating, Torrez was attacked by fellow students because he was wearing a Pride flag – which was caught on video and shared on social media.

The video, which was shared with WTOL 11, shows Torrez standing on the bleachers with a Pride flag around his neck and draped on his shoulders. Another student approaches Torrez from behind, grabs the flag and throws Torrez down against the bleachers. Torrez sits up, but the other student pulls off the flag and hits Torrez with it.

The video ends with Torrez being surrounded by students, who are hitting him. Torrez told WTOL 11 that the other student “poured water” on him and then “started choking” him.

The teen said that wearing the Pride flag was his “official way” of saying he is gay and “not trying to hide it”. Torrez added: “I was wearing it to state a message, and state just because one person is who they are, proud of who they are, doesn’t mean others shouldn’t be proud of who they are.”

He told WTOL 11 that he heard from other students that he was attacked because of a “dare”. Torrez added: “Someone told me it was because I said a racial slur, which was completely false.

“Some people said it was because I’m gay and just do it anyway.”

Torrez’s mother, Brianne, said the incident was “heartbreaking” to her. She told WTOL 11 that she woke up to her son coming home after school and telling her that “he was roughed up today”.

“He’s so used to the bullying it was kind of nothing to him, but to me, it was heartbreaking,” Brianne said.

Defiance City Schools superintendent Bob Morton said in a statement to WTOL 11 that they are “aware of this situation”. He explained Defiance City Schools takes situations like this “seriously”, and this incident was dealt with “swiftly with school administration and local law enforcement”.

Related topics: Homophobia, Ohio, Pride

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