Charges Dropped Against Transgender Teen Involved in Hercules High Fight
Jewlyes Gutierrez, a sophomore at Hercules High who identifies as a transgender female, has said the Nov. 15 fight with three female classmates that was caught on cell phone video and re-distributed online erupted after ongoing taunts and harassment from her classmates.
After the teen was charged with misdemeanor battery in Contra Costa County Superior Court for her role in the fight, her older sister Valerie Poquiz started a petition on Change.org calling on the district attorney's office to drop the charges.
Poquiz explained in a statement on the social activism website that her sister had long been the victim of bullying at school and had reported the harassment to school administrators.
"After repeated events of bullying by this peer, Jewlyes sought help from the assistant principal in fear of her physical safety," she wrote. "However, the issue was not properly addressed, no necessary action was taken by the administration."
Jewelyes' story drew national attention and some 210,000 people signed the online petition.
The incident came about a week after the results of a U.S. Office of Education investigation revealed that sexual harassment was still prevalent at West Contra Costa Unified School District schools and that the district wasn't coming up with solutions to address the problem.
The probe stemmed from the 2009 gang rape of a 16-year-old girl on the Richmond High School campus that occurred during a school dance. The findings and the Nov. 15 incident prompted school district officials to overhaul the district's policies on bullying and sexual harassment in January.
Earlier this month, Jewlyes's sister announced that the charges against the teen had been dropped.
Contra Costa County Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Cabral, who prosecutes juvenile offenses, declined to comment on Jewlyes' case since she is a minor.
--By Bay City News