Gay Student Confronts School Board About Bullying

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A school board meeting in Luzerne County had people demanding change and tolerance.

An openly gay student in the Hanover Area School District took a transgender date to the prom over the weekend, and now claims a teacher showed video of him dancing with his date to other students at school.

"It really hurt me to know that someone, I actually really trusted her, to know that she would do this," said senior Jared Swank.

Swank, 18, said his senior prom over the weekend was a memorable one. The openly gay student at Hanover Area High School said he and his transgender female date enjoyed dancing the night away, but on Monday he said his prom experience took an ugly turn.

"I went to prom. One of the teachers took a video and put it on the whiteboard here at school and other students saw it and made comments," added Swank.

Jared' s mom said he has been bullied since eighth grade and this alleged incident was just another example.

"It hurt him, it hurt him. He was embarrassed, he was chastised. 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 out the window, '(expletive).' So that's what it's done. It's antagonized more bullying," said mother Dawn Mendygral.

At the Hanover Area school board meeting, Mendygral spoke out demanding answers. Others said bullying is a big issue at the school.

"It's a thing that's been going on forever, even when my kids were here," said Deborah Scott.

There are anti-bullying signs throughout the high school and even an anti-discrimination policy listed in the student handbook.

School officials were surprised to learn of the alleged incident.

"We think we have a very inclusive and diverse environment here and when anybody makes a claim of this type, we have to investigate it. So there's always concern from the board, from the faculty, and especially, the administration to get to the bottom of it," said school board president John Pericci.

School officials said there are hotlines and other ways to report bullying.

Though he is graduating soon, Jared said he is speaking out to help others.

"I'm just here to hopefully change everybody's perspective about homosexuality and all the discrimination and hopefully get it to change," he added.

School officials said they plan to meet with Jared and his mother next week. They said a complete investigation into the incident will be launched and if it is found any school policies have been violated, disciplinary action will be taken.