Essex H.S. sit-in to target bullying - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Essex H.S. sit-in to target bullying

Essex, Vermont - November 3, 2011

An Essex High School freshman say he was beaten up over the weekend for being bi-sexual.   school officials say an investigation is underway into what happened.  Now students are taking action of their own- planning an all-day sit-in at the school to take a stand against bullying.

Essex High School freshman Cole Peterson says he's bullied for being bisexual. "All along the way they were making gay jokes and calling me faggot, and gay and homo," Peterson said.

Peterson says the bullying got physical over the weekend.  He claims two fellow freshman, who have been tormenting him for weeks, beat him at the Maple Street Park Sunday afternoon. "In the end I was beaten 10, 15, 20 times in the face and head," he said.

The normally outspoken student says returning to class was tough. "It makes me feel terrible at the beginning of this week, after this incident occurred. I actually dreaded coming to school in the morning and I felt physically sick to my stomach because I was so nervous," Peterson said.

Peterson's classmates are coming to his side. They've planned a sit-in for Friday in the school's gym to take a stand against bullying and to pressure the school administration to do more to tackle the problem.

Organizers say hundreds of students are slated to participate. "It's okay to be who you are and that there are people who will accept you no matter what and you don't need to feel like you are kept down -- we're here to support you," said Kelly Cobler, an Essex High School senior.

Essex High School's principal, Rob Reardon, is preparing for the sit-in and maintains full attendance and behavior policies will be in place Friday. He says Essex Police are investigating what happened to Peterson. "This is an ongoing process. We're gathering information. People want instant answers and instant results. This is not Law and Order where the episode starts and 50 minutes later it's completely solved," Reardon said.

Peterson says most of his classmates don't bully and that the sit-in will be a way to show the few who do -- it's not okay. "I fear that if nothing is done about this and it goes unanswered that it could become worse and I do not want that, and in that situation I would fear for my safety," Peterson said.

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