Students protested outside their school after a transgender teen reported being assaulted and police declared that no such attack took place.
On 4 November, the students united in front of Berlin High School in Berlin, Wisconsin to take a stand against the response to the claims.
The 14-year-old student said he was cornered in the boy’s bathroom before a group of students demanded he take off his pants and lift up his shirt to expose his body.
Speaking to local news outlet WBAY, the student explained: “They were surrounding the stall door and one was recording through the peek hole, and they saw my bottom half and after that I stood in the stall crying.”
He added that there have been several assaults over the last few weeks but was scared to report them straight away.
According to the Berlin Police Department, the school notified them of the alleged incident as soon as they were made aware of it.
However, after investigating what happened, local police issued a statement saying that the assault never happened.
“After multiple interviews and examining the associated evidence of the alleged assault, our investigation discovered no physical assault or attack against the alleged victim took place,” a spokesperson said.
They added that an alleged video recording of the trans student in the bathroom is still being looked into.
The school district confirmed that it is conducting a separate investigation into the claims.
Students protest outside of Berlin High School in Berlin, WI after a 14-year-old transgender boy was cornered in the boy's bathroom by classmates who allegedly demanded he pull down his pants and lift up his shirt pic.twitter.com/DckbUMraoy
— Gillian Branstetter (@GBBranstetter) November 9, 2021
In the wake of the response to the student’s allegations, a walkout was staged to get “questions answered” and stand in solidarity with the victim.
“We sat there for a while and we were trying to get our questions answered, and we were kind of getting blown off and they were trying to get us inside, but we wanted this to be public, we wanted people to see us, hear us,” said Amber Olmstead, the walkout’s organiser.
According to WBAY, school administrators met with some of the frustrated students on 5 November to discuss their concerns and find ways to make it more accepting.
Autumn Peterson, a student at Berlin High School, said: “There’s been a big past of assault and homophobia in our school, and it just needs to come to an end.”
Those participating in the protest taped their mouths shut and held placards with messages supporting the LGBTQ+ community on them.
In a statement to Action 2 News, Superintendent Carl Cartwright said: “The Berlin Area School District is aware of a student walkout in response to allegations of a student assault at the high school.
“The Berlin Area School District is committed to the success of all students in a safe learning environment and we take such allegations seriously.
“The school district is cooperating with local law enforcement who are investigating this situation.
“The district is also conducting its own investigation. Because of the ongoing investigations, the district is unable to provide additional details at this time.”