An Arizona school district has condemned the in-school discipline at one of its high schools after two boys were forced to hold hands in front of their classmates as a punishment for fighting.
Earlier this week, the two students at Westwood High School in Mesa, Ariz., who have not been named, were faced with the prospect of either suspension
from school, or sitting in chairs in the high school’s courtyard and holding hands for 15 minutes during a lunch period. They opted for the latter.
“Kids were laughing at them and calling them names, asking, ‘Are you gay?’” student Brittney Smyers told ABC affiliate KNXV.
Teens at the high school inevitably posted photos of the two, who spent the time shielding their faces with their heads in their hands, to social media sites.
On the Facebook posting, users commented that the public punishment is not appropriate, as it positions the teens as targets for taunting and name-calling. Others suggested the punishment was anti-gay, as it implies two males holding hands is embarrassing.
Helen Hollands, director of communication and marketing for Mesa Public Schools, told ABCNews.com that the school’s principal, Tim Richard, who is in his first year at Westwood, had the idea.
“He’s done some great things there,” she said. “He’s focused highly on maintaining a standard where [ideally] no students are failing a class.”
“Mesa Public Schools is dedicated to maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment. The district has guidelines for appropriate student discipline
and our site administrators have the authority to impose consequences within our policies and regulations,” the statement said.