- Photo courtesy of Marlith via Flickr Creative Commons
Young, an openly gay teen, was expelled from Arsenal Technical High School last week after bringing a stun gun to school in April to protect himself against bullying related to his sexual orientation.
"I identified closely with Dynasty. I was bullied in school and I too got suspended for bringing a weapon to school to protect myself," Padgett said. "So I kind of identified with him and wanted to show that it does get better and he has support in the community and there are people here that don't want to see this go on anymore."
A statement from the IPS Office of School and Community Relations last week said Young would be allowed to return to IPS on Jan. 7, 2013 and outlined its policy on both bullying and weapons at its schools.
"Students who violate the rights of others through bullying behaviors are held accountable. While the district does not condone bullying, it also does not allow weapons to be brought on our school campuses for any reason. Students who violate this rule will be held accountable," the statement said.
Padgett said he hoped the rally would show the city how many people are interested in the handling of Young's case.
"We want to tell the IPS school board that they didn't act correctly in this incident," Padgett said. "We want them to know we support Dynasty and his right to defend himself. And we also want to make sure that the public knows that there are people in this town that think things need to change and that the anti-bullying efforts need to be reformed."
In an Indianapolis Star report, Young's mother, Chelisa Grimes, who gave her son the stun gun, said in some instances, school officials seemed to blame Young's behavior for the bullying.
In an interview with the Star, Arsenal Technical Principal, Larry Yarrell, said Young's accessories drove the negative attention he received.
"If you wear female apparel, then kids are kids and they're going to say whatever it is that they want to say," Yarrell said. "Because you want to be different and because you choose to wear female apparel, it may happen. In the idealistic society, it shouldn't matter. People should be able to wear what they want to wear."
Padgett said administrators and school staff should take more responsibility for making sure that bullying issues are taken care of.
"It's the responsibility of school administrators, teachers and school staff to provide a safe environment for the education of our children," Padgett said. "When they're not providing a safe environment for those kids then they're failing in their responsibilities as educators."
According to a Facebook event created for the event, the rally will continue until tonight's IPS School Board meeting at 7 p.m. at John Morton-Finney Educational Center at 120 E. Walnut Street in Indianapolis.