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Olathe School District Says Students Will Be Punished If They Used LGBT Slurs

Kansas News Service

The Olathe School District says students who used anti-LGBT language at a homecoming parade last Thursday will be punished. However, the district suggests the incident at Olathe Northwest High School may not have been as bad as first reported.

The most egregious reported chant was "Make Olathe Northwest straight again." But Assistant Superintendent Erin Dugan says the district has "no credible evidence" confirming the chant was uttered.

“There’s lots of stories and rumors about different things that were said, whether or not mobs of kids were chanting," Dugan told Steve Kraske on KCUR's "Up to Date" program on Monday. 

Still, she said, the offenders will be punished. 

"They’ll face consequences for certain,” Dugan said.

At least one veteran teacher at the school suggested the parade may have lacked supervision. Dugan, however, said the same number of teachers supervised the parade as in the past. 

While the parade occurred on Thursday, it continues to generate buzz on social media. A new Twitter account popped up over the weekend called Onw_slanders (Onw stands for Olathe Northwest.) One tweet Monday afternoon blamed the Gender Sexuality Alliance student organization for the tension.

"The self entitled bigots are the gsa, they believe they should be treated special, when I believe everyone should be treated the same," the tweet stated.

The district immediately addressed the parade incident. Principal Chris Zuck emailed parents on Friday, saying, "I want to reassure you that we are taking this situation very seriously and that derogatory language and action is absolutely not acceptable ... While we continue the investigation, our focus will be to make sure all of our students feel safe."

Teachers at Olathe Northwest and in other schools in the district say the bitter divide in national politics has made it more challenging this year in the classroom, which might have played a role in the homecoming incident.

“I think we would be remiss if we thought the climate nationally hasn’t had an impact down to the school level,” Dugan said.

Sam Zeff  covers education for KCUR and is co-host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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