DEERFIELD BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A teen said he is being tormented at Deerfield Beach Middle School because he is gay, and his family is furious with the Broward school district for not doing more to protect him.
Chad Sanford said he told the principal the bullying happened last Friday, and they didn’t make an extra effort to keep him safe. That same day, he was pushed to the ground, yelled at with homophobic slurs, and he said, it’s unacceptable.
Cellphone video showed a crowd of students surrounding Sanford, following him, chastising him and then slamming him to the ground as he was trying to leave Deerfield Beach Middle School last Friday.
“Somebody came up behind me, pushed me up and slammed me to the floor, and I remember them kicking and punching me,” Sanford said.
The 13-year-old lied on the ground as classmates laughed and called him names.
“They were yelling, but after the fight, they started saying, ‘Gay [expletive]! I got the gay [expletive]!” Sanford said.
He said the bully told him he wanted to fight him. Sanford said he went to the principal’s office.
“He was like, ‘Let’s take this outside,'” he said.
That same Friday, as he was trying to leave school, he tried to avoid the students.
“I remember saying to myself, ‘They’re gonna follow me all the way down here. They’re gonna still do something if they follow me down here, so let me go this way,'” Sanford said. “I turn around, and he was behind me. He actually dragged me from up my feet and slammed me to the floor.”
“There wasn’t any staff around, no security, no teachers, nobody around to stop it,” said Sanford’s aunt Raquel Showers.
Sanford fell on his head, and he was taken to the hospital. He said he has suffered headaches and swelling ever since.
The physical scars are one thing, but the emotional pain is something else entirely.
“I wanted to kill myself, you know? Because I’m not gonna sit around and let you bash me because I’m gay. I felt like there was nothing there to live for,” Sanford said.
Statistics from The Trevor Project, an organization that provides suicide prevention and crisis intervention services to LGBTQ youth under 25, finds LGBTQ youth seriously contemplate suicide nearly three times the rate of heterosexual youth. The same group is nearly five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to their heterosexual peers.
The Broward County School Board released a statement about the bullying, saying in part, “The school’s leadership is taking this incident seriously and is working with law enforcement in its investigation. Any students involved will face appropriate school disciplinary consequences.”
“I wanna see them do more,” Showers said.
Sanford has this message for his bullies.
“Go to school and get an education. Stop trying to come out here and play for these kids. Stop trying to make it seem like you’re the big person. It’s just making me angry,” he said.
7News has reached out to the Broward County School Board because Sanford said he doesn’t know where he’ll be going to school in the next coming weeks and next school year.
The school board said they’re in touch with the family, but according to the family, they have yet to speak to them.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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