When administrators at an Arkansas high school censored an openly gay student’s yearbook profile, they claimed it was because they were afraid he’d be bullied.
But the student, 17-year-old Taylor Ellis, noted he’d been out as gay in school for a full year — and hadn’t had any major problems. Meanwhile, LGBT advocates said administrators were the ones bullying Ellis by censoring his profile, which focused on his coming out story.
On Wednesday, Ellis’ first day back at school after the story made national news, some of Ellis’ classmates reportedly followed the administration’s lead. Ellis said he was bullied by students who set up a hateful Instagram page, then reprimanded by a teacher for defending himself, according to an interview with Slate.
Ellis said the day started out OK, but then in fifth period, he discovered the Instragram page “Sheridan School = No Gays” and noticed that three of the students following it were sitting across from him.
“One girl started going on this rant that I did not want to hear,” Ellis told Slate. “She’s sitting here telling me I’m giving the school a bad name and I’m blowing the school out of proportion. But I don’t even like seeing myself on the news! I don’t like being on TV. … I thought this would be fun. But it’s not.”
Ellis told Slate he asked a few other students why they were following the “hate page” on Instagram, which coincidentally is where he came out to classmates last year. That’s when a teacher told Ellis: “You don’t need to be talking in class. You need to go sit down. You have assignments to do.”
“This teacher has never gotten onto me, never had a problem with me,” Ellis told Slate. “But now she just kept saying stuff and I was just sitting there, shaking and crying. That’s what I do when I get mad — I shake and cry.”
After class, Ellis went to a supportive teacher’s room, where they prayed and cried. The teacher took him to the counselor’s office, where he talked for 30 minutes before finally returning to class.
Below are more screen grabs from the Instagram page, which was still up Thursday afternoon despite apparent attempts to have it removed.