Non-binary 12-year-old ‘stomped on’ in grotesque attack just for wearing a Pride flag to a picnic
A non-binary student and their friends were physically attacked by a group of students just for having an LGBT+ Pride flag at a school picnic.
Leo Hoffman, a 12-year-old non-binary student, attended a school picnic at Seminole Middle School in Plantation, Florida on 28 May. They sat down with their friends and simply displayed a Pride flag when they were viciously attacked by a male student, according to Spectrum Bay News 9.
Benjamin Hoffman, Leo’s father, told the news outlet that his child retrieved the flag and put it on their back like a cape, but the same male student grabbed it again – resulting in Leo being thrown to the ground.
A video of the attack, posted by a person identifying herself as Leo’s sister on Twitter, showed the terrifying ordeal. She wrote that her non-binary “little sibling” was “drug to the group, stomped on” and “covered in water just for wearing a Pride flag at school”.
The video – which has been viewed more than 158,000 times – showed students being thrown to the ground while clutching onto an LGBT+ Pride flag. Several students try to step in and help while others are fighting over possession of the flag.
This is a video of my little sibling Leo who is non-binary being drug to the ground, stomped on, and covered in water just for wearing a pride flag at school. Please call Seminole Middle and request #justiceforleo at 727-547-4520 pic.twitter.com/VwNRidkeuj
— Ashleigh 🏳️🌈 (@Mermaid_Lover_) June 1, 2021
Seminole Middle School told Spectrum Bay News 9 that multiple students had been suspended for their involvement in the attack on the non-binary youth and their friends. Some students were expelled for their involvement in the incident and were reassigned to alternative schools. But it is unclear how many students have been disciplined for their actions at the picnic.
Isabel Mascareñas, the public information officer for Pinellas County Schools, told Spectrum Bay News 9 that the students’ behaviour was “inappropriate and not acceptable”. She added: “We teach our students to accept and respect everyone for who they are.
“This is a district that values diversity and promotes inclusion.”
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Benjamin Hoffman said he hated to “see someone’s kid expelled from school”, but he said “you can’t lay your hands on another person”. He continued: “It’s just not acceptable.”
But he said Leo is doing well all things considered. He explained his non-binary child was “frightened” not for themselves but “for their friends”.
“Leo is very strong and would do anything to protect their friends,” Hoffman said.
Mascareñas told Spectrum Bay News 9 that the school is reviewing its stated school values in class this week. She added the school will also implement a bully prevention programme when the school year resumes later this year.
According to Spectrum Bay News 9, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department is also investigating the attack at the school picnic.