HARWOOD, Md. - An Anne Arundel County high school student who has been the victim of bullying ever since coming out as transgender is speaking out about recent incidents that police are now investigating.
Ryan Arbogast attends Southern High School and he told FOX 5 he feels that now is the time to speak out on the bullying incidents he has faced.
In the first incident, photos were posted around Labor Day in a Snapchat story posted under the name “Confederate Lives Matter” and involved four students. In one photo, you can see one of them dressed in a Ku Klux Klan hood made out of paper towels. Another post in the story had text saying, “And being a liberal transgender isn’t the only excuse for being a brain damaged freak but look at you.” Additional text in the story also says, “Ding dong your sexuality is wrong.”
The 15-year-old student said the second incident involved another student spitting on him in a stairwell. He said this kind of harassment is nothing new, but he is not backing down.
“I️ want this to stop,” Arbogast said. “I️ want something to actually come of it, I️ want to know something has come of it, and I don’t want this to ever happen again. I don’t want another situation where someone is just sitting and feeling like they are hopeless because nothing is being done.”
“I think it is really lack of knowledge, lack of understanding,” said Jimmy Arbogast, Ryan’s father. “I️ will admit when my son came out to me, it was hard. It was really one of the hardest things I️ ever had to deal with. Knowledge, education, understanding and communication – there are so many support groups out there, not only for the LGBTQ, but for their friends and families. Reaching out and talking to those people. Realize that they don’t want the world, they just want to be included in the world.”
Southern High School students we spoke with said this kind of behavior is unfortunate, but it is not anything new, and social media has become a sort of breeding ground for bullying among some of their peers.
The school has also since sent a letter out to parents making them aware of the issue and the importance of stopping incidents like this all together.
“It's not really Anne Arundel County. It's more like this area," said student Travis Quick. "This area is just kind of, I️ don't want to say racist, but they got their own groups.”
“Our stance is what it has always been, which is hate has no place here,” said Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesperson Bob Mosier. “We need to support every single student that walks through the doors of any one of our schools and that is what we attempt to do. There are things that happen during the school day and outside of the school day that are not in concert with that message.”
While the school system is now stepping up, Ryan and his father said they do not feel the district has always been this responsive to their concerns.
As far as the students involved in the incidents, Anne Arundel County Public Schools said they were disciplined, but would not share details of what actions were taken.