She posted an anti-bullying video after a classmate died — now the school is punishing her
When a classmate committed suicide after being bullied, one Tennessee student sought to stop bullying at her school. Her school administrators, on the other hand, accused her of doing more than that.
Emily Gipson is a junior at Lebanon High School. She’s already lost at least one classmate, 15-year-old Allie Johnson, to suicide, reports WSMV. When it came out that Johnson took her own life as the result of bullying, Gipson created a video to disavow the behavior. Not only this, but her video also criticized the school’s response to reports of bullying.
“Sometimes I wonder just how many kids it takes dying to make a difference,” she challenged.
Since posting the video, which has since been viewed well over 500,000 times, Gipson received an in-school suspension.
Principal Scott Walters told WSMV that the suspension was the result of her being in a classroom without permission.
“Of course, she does have her right to free speech. What I did have a problem with was that it was videoed on school campus in a classroom without the teacher’s permission. It would have been better if she had done it at home and away from school,” he told the Lebanon Democrat.
Gipson said there was more to the story.
“I was also told that if I posted more videos or took more action, I would receive out-of-school suspension,” she said. “…They gave me in-school suspension because they said I was trying to incite violence while on the school campus. I didn’t have any intentions to incite any kind of violence. Everyone sees my message their own way, and if that’s how they see it, then so be it.”
She also acknowledged that she filmed the video “after school hours,” but alleged that she had “permission by the teacher” — a “coach and another coach, and I approached them.”
Since the video has gone viral, responses to it have been split.
Gipson has received much support for her words, while Walters said he received notes and gifts from students and parents who did not agree with the content of the video. Walters also said that both he and several of the teachers have hurt feelings because of Gipson’s assertions.
Still, “I can appreciate the perspective of the video. Of course, she’s 16, and her perspective is going to be different from mine.”
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