Magali Rodriguez is a student at Bishop Amat Memorial High School, the biggest Catholic school in the Los Angeles area.
Rodriguez identifies as a lesbian, but she said that she didn’t kiss her girlfriend at school. Even though she checked the student handbook to confirm that it wasn’t against the rules to be gay, she knew that not everyone on campus would approve of her relationship with another woman, so she said that they didn’t go in for the typical high school public displays of affection.
What she didn’t expect, however, was for the school staff to single her out for her sexuality and force her into disciplinary meetings and counseling. She was also barred from sitting next to her girlfriend at lunch and she was kept under the close eye by staff members. The school staff told her that if she didn’t follow these rules, school officials would out her to her parents.
Rodriguez is a high school senior, and she tried to stay positive and get through it. However, she was at a beaking point after more than three years, and every day spent on campus brought her intense waves of anxiety. So, she finally decided to speak up – to her parents and now publicly.
She told BuzzFeed News that she doesn’t want this to happen to anybody else. When her parents heard her story, they pulled her out of the school and the mother added that, in spite of the school’s impressive reputation, the way school staff treated the teen was wrong.
The mom is now angry that the school took it upon themselves to parent their daughter, counsel her, and lecture her.
School officials and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles didn’t respond to specific questions, but Rodriguezes’ account has been disputed by a spokesperson, saying that “it was not entirely accurate”.
According to the school, all students are held to the same standards outlined in the Parent/Student Handbook, and Bishop Amat doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, color, disability, medical condition, gender, national and/or ethnic origin.
They added that any student who is involved in a relationship may socialize appropriately on campus, however, as stated in the Parent/Student handbook, engaging in excessive displays of affection on campus is not permitted.
Rodrigez, who came out to her friends in middle school, said that she knew the Catholic teachings about homosexuality, but she was surrounded by people that were really involved in their religion, but still accepting. So, she never thought there was anything “bad” about it.
It was in the second semester of her first year when she and her girlfriend were called into separate meetings with their deans of discipline.
She was told by her dean that there had been complaints about her relationship, and that it couldn’t happen at school, and that it was wrong. Rodriguez was given a set of rules: no meeting with her girlfriend during breaks, and no sitting next to her girlfriend at lunch. The meetings with the dean would continue, as well as sessions with the school psychologist. She was told that the school wouldn’t tell her parents if she followed these rules.
She was still trying to figure out how she wanted to come out to her family at that point, and she was scared, so she agreed.
However, just a few months later, the girls were waiting for a ride home when they were approached by a staff member who told them that they were going to hell and that she was working to get them expelled.
Rodriguez told BuzzFeed News that she and her girlfriend were really afraid on campus for the next 2 years, and they hardly had any contact. She recalled how a teacher was staring them down during a class picnic while a straight couple made out nearby.
She finally decided to come out to her parents after her grades dropped and she and her girlfriend broke up, and she penned a letter in which she revealed to her parents what she had been experiencing.
Her parents found the letter shocking, but they weren’t surprised she was gay. Their biggest surprise was how she was treated by the school.
Rodriguez is now set to finish the year at another high school, and she says that she feels like she can breathe for the first time in years.