‘We’ve got your back’: After homecoming hate at Olathe Northwest, LGBTQ allies rally

Mom wants ridicule and taunts labeled a hate crime against LGBT youth

The parent of two students at Olathe Northwest High School and rally organizer, wants the public ridicule and taunts against LGBT students at homecoming parade labeled a hate crime.
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The parent of two students at Olathe Northwest High School and rally organizer, wants the public ridicule and taunts against LGBT students at homecoming parade labeled a hate crime.

A 9-year-old transgender girl showed off her superpowers to fight a hateful homecoming at Olathe Northwest High School.

Izzy Scofield, dressed in a trans pride cape, dashed in front of a group of LGBTQ supporters who gathered Tuesday morning outside of the high school. Izzy waved a rainbow flag as she ran.

“I’m a superhero,” said Izzy, who attends an Olathe elementary school. “I came to stand up for other people like me, and my superpower is fighting off the haters.”

Last week, members of the school’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance club for LGBTQ students were subjected to ridicule and taunts hurled at them from fellow students during the school’s homecoming parade. GSA club members said they heard chants of “Make ONW straight again” and other derogatory messages. They also said they were pelted in the face with objects thrown at them along the parade route.

In response, about 150 LGBTQ supporters stood in the rain across the street from the school, waving rainbow flags and balloons. Some of the messages of encouragement read, “Love is love,” “LGBTQ rights are human rights” and “We’ve got your back.”

Missy Koonce, a well-known figure in the KC music and theater community, attended the gathering.

“This is my neighborhood. I know these kids. I was these kids in 1985 when I came out,” she said. “I know what it’s like to be bullied and beaten. It’s important for kids to know they have support.”

A group of LGBTQ supporters gathered Tuesday morning outside Olathe Northwest High School. Rich Sugg rsugg@kcstar.com

Some students gathered outside of the school to recognize the supporters, calling out, “Thank you, thank you.” Passing motorists honked their horns in support of the rally.

Ryan Metcalf, a 2006 graduate from Olathe Northwest, was among the supporters.

“I want to let the students know that there is a community that cares about them,” he said.

Casssandra Peters, an rally organizer and parent of one of the students taunted during the parade, said her child a 17-year-old junior at Olathe Northwest is considering whether to pursue the incident legally as a hate crime since students had objects thrown at them.

She said some students are very concerned about their safety in the school.

“They are taking off their buttons and laying low,” Peters said. “They shouldn’t have to do that. They should be allowed to be as proud and as loud as they want to. They should be free to be who they are.”

On Sunday, community members who support the GSA club took to Facebook to organize the rally.

A Facebook post said, “The school administration is aware of the rally and only ask that we stay off their property...” In that post, organizers suggested that people who came to support the club members bring “Rainbow gear, Affirming Signs, & positivity,” and “Keep your protests, anger, etc. at home.”

Following the hateful actions at the homecoming parade, GSA club members took to social media and fought back, speaking out against the insults and demeaning remarks made toward them.

One supporter tweeted out her design of a Raven — the school mascot — holding a rainbow flag.

“As a community we need to ensure these kids know that they are beautiful, important, and loved,” said a Facebook message accompanied by a banner heading that reads, “We Stand With You,” against a rainbow flag.

“Since ally week is next week we want to do something to lift these kid’s spirits and show them they have community support,” said the message inviting people to join the rally event. “We will be lining the sidewalk across the street from the high school holding supportive and affirming signs.”

Those who knew they couldn’t attend shared messages of support using the hashtag #istandwithyou.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc