When A Gay Student Was Bullied, Hundreds Of His Classmates Rallied On His Behalf

"I’m very proud of these students. Their message is about peace and love and protecting all kids from being bullied."

When Garrett McCann was bullied by a handful of students at school, over 200 of his classmates at York High School in York, Maine attended a rally as a show of overwhelming support for the 14-year-old and his older brother who was reportedly suspended from the same school after fighting with one of Garrett's tormentors.



The Portland Press Herald reports the rally took place before classes on the morning of October 23 and featured students (and parents) peacefully holding signs with encouraging messages such as "Be Kind" and "You are Beautiful." For many in attendance, the rally was a way to convey to the school administration that they're not doing enough to protect McCann, who reportedly came out as gay last summer and has been relentlessly teased in recent months.

While the administration's failure to properly safeguard McCann was the impetus for the rally, many students told the Press Herald that they took part in the event not just for him, but for any student who is bullied or marginalized. 

In fact, the Bangor Daily News noted a statement handed out by students at the rally stated the following: "We are standing out here today to rally for EVERYONE being bullied, to spread a positive message of gay pride, to stand for the LGBTQ+ community and to bring awareness to hate crimes."

That's likely part of the reason why the crowd at the rally was so large and diverse.

"You see all walks of life from the high school out here right now,", YHS student and rally attendee Nate Davis told the news outlet. "You've got football players, two of the captains, people from the drama club who never get involved in sports, all sorts of people. When everyone gets together for one problem you can tell that problem is big enough that you need to address it soon. That's what this is trying to show. We're not all from one group, but we're all united."

That same notion was not lost on McCann, who said he "definitely" feels supported by his classmates given how many of them showed up to the rally. "It's only about four or five or six people [who were being bullies] and look at the people here. They're definitely outnumbered," he explained, adding he didn't even know some of the people on hand.

According to McCann's father, Tim, much of the bullying has taken place online and through various apps, and he says he's frustrated because school administrators have failed to take it seriously. "Makes you very angry, you're somewhat helpless. Nobody wants to see their kid get picked or any kid get picked on," he told local NBC affiliate WSCH 6.



Per a 2015 report from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 42 percent of LGBT youth have experienced cyberbullying, while 35 percent have received online threats. The organization also notes cyberbullying of LGBT youth is three times higher than other student's experience.

For their part, school officials have now said they are committed to combating bullying. "We have dedicated the day to listen to students and look forward to working alongside them to ensure that all students feel welcome, safe and supported at York High School," Principal Karl Francis told. The Portland Press Herald on October 23. "This morning's rally signified a statement for unity and respect for all York students."

Though McCann's older brother has reportedly been charged with assault in relation to his interaction with another student, per The Portland Press Herald, right now the family is choosing to focus on the outpouring of support Garrett has received. "Hopefully, this will lead to a good outcome going forward," Tim concluded to the Bangor Daily News. "I'm very proud of these students. Their message is about peace and love and protecting all kids from being bullied." 

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