“You want to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt, and figure they’re just playing around,” Amanda Pettus, of Gaston County, N.C., told Fox 46 about the alleged bullying of her son Alex Davis, who has Asperger syndrome.
But Alex, who typically wears his hair in a “man bun,” said that the teacher, who is also the school’s basketball coach, told him, “I can’t have my hair up like that because I’m not a girl, or I’m not a fag.” Alex alleges the teacher at the William C. Friday Middle School in Dallas, N.C., has been so bothered by his hairstyle that the teacher has even forcibly pulled hair ties off of Alex’s head.
Alex alleges that the teacher also once mocked him in front of the eighth-grade class for answering a question correctly, telling him, “‘So you’re not completely useless,'” Alex claims. “I thought OK, well, maybe I’m not, and he was like, ‘Just most of the way,’ and then I felt like, ‘Well, maybe I am useless,’ but I did answer the question correctly.”
School principal Crystal Houser did not return a call for comment from Yahoo Beauty.
Alex’s mom tells Yahoo Beauty that, according to her son, the abuse began at the start of the school year, but that he did not tell her about it until January because he is “very anticonflict.” She has recently taken her son to a therapist for his “suicidal thoughts,” she says, adding that, so far, the principal and superintendent have refused to meet with her or even return her calls. “[My son] understands what bullying is,” Pettus says, “but he doesn’t understand why.”
Stories of teachers bullying students are not unheard of, unfortunately. Most recently, in Louisiana, two teachers were facing charges for allegedly bullying students and pressuring them to fight; just before that, in Chicago, two teachers were disciplined for reportedly bullying a student over his refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
“It’s actually not that uncommon, though it’s not usually overt,” antibullying expert and counselor Joel Haber tells Yahoo Beauty. But when teachers are picking on students, rather than peers, he says, “it’s particularly egregious. Students look at a teacher as an authority figure and provider of safety.”
So not only does it take away that feeling of safety and security, Haber says, but “it sets the stage for an open field … and the other kids think, if the teacher is doing it, why shouldn’t we?”
Read more from Yahoo Beauty + Style:
- 10-Year-Old Bullied for Her Dark Skin Becomes Role Model and T-Shirt Designer
- Little Girl Cuts Her Hair In Solidarity With Bullied Sister
- Bullying Video Surfaces of 8-Year-Old Boy Who Committed Suicide