A South Dakota teacher told students he wanted to “rescue” them from being trans.
After a South Dakota student requested to change their pronouns, educator Calvin Hillesland responded with a transphobic letter. A group of high-school students from conservative Watertown, South Dakota, are now fighting back against the teacher.
Hillesland, a german teacher, responded to a request from a student to acknowledge their preferred pronouns with a letter denying the existence of trans people.
Not only did Hillesland write a personal letter and deliver it during official school hours, but he also offered religious material supporting his own beliefs. He went on to call the student’s pronouns “wrong” and “a lie.”
South Dakota. Zero days without being a national embarrassment. Local teacher at the high school thought it was a good idea to hand this letter to several students. pic.twitter.com/BjnJx4dLdG
— Lee Bruns (@RealLeeBruns) April 25, 2022
Students and Staff React to the Letter
Now, the school district is taking action after protests from students prompted an immediate response. A representative said, “The Watertown School District does not support this sort of action, and we respect the rights of our students to be who they are.” The district’s statement read, “We want to provide a safe learning environment for all students. We continue to work through the situation and ask for your support as we handle it.”
Unfortunately, like other students in conservative states, many Watertown High School students experience bullying and harassment with little protection from faculty.
One of the students, Alex Rambow, said, “We can’t defend ourselves. We can’t retaliate. They tell us to be the bigger person or ignore it.”
Another, Shelby Bendel, added, “We’ve reported many things, but the most I’ve seen happen to the bullies is a 30-minute suspension.”
When the teachers become bullies, there are few resources for young LGBTQ+ people to turn to. According to officials, the investigation into Hillesland’s actions is still ongoing, and he will continue teaching at this time.