Eighteen-year-old Jared Swank of Pennsylvania did what most high schoolers do–attended his prom last week. Openly gay, Swank’s date to Hanover Area High School’s senior prom was a transgender girl. During a dance they shared together, he was approached by a teacher chaperoning the dance who asked if she could film the couple, hoping to give her daughter a lesson in diversity. In a move that he says has left him humiliated, Swank claims the teacher did not show the video to her daughter, but instead to her science class where students laughed and ridiculed him.
Although he wasn’t present in the class at the time, he heard from other classmates as word quickly spread throughout the entire school.
“I was not happy that this was shown in class,” Swank said to The Citizen’s Voice. “She told me she wanted to show her daughter. Not the entire school.”
Dawn Mendygral, Jared’s mother, was appalled, and says that he has been bullied since the eighth grade, yet little had been done to help him. “I don’t understand why it was played in the first place, in a school, in a classroom,” she said.
So she took her frustrations to a school board meeting.
“He was embarrassed, he was chastised,” she told them. “As a matter of fact, we just came from the gas station to get a drink before we got here and some of Hanover Area students yelled [an expletive out] the window. So that’s what it’s done. It’s antagonized more bullying.”
“Of course I’m surprised and, more so, concerned,” responded school board president John Pericci. He says the school board only learned of the claim two days ago. “We can’t determine yet what’s true and what’s not true.”
Regardless of the motivation behind it, Jared Swank hopes this sheds light on a bigger issue. “I’ve been bullied constantly through high school with very little sympathy from school officials,” he said while speaking to reporters. “I’m going to graduate in less than a month. I will be OK. My concern is for the next class and classes after that, who, if nothing happens, will have to deal with the bullying and torture I experienced, something that no kid growing up should go through.”