A 14-year-old middle school student from Ohio was the victim of an apparent anti-gay attack from a fellow student recently. Tristen Torrez was sitting on the bleachers outside Defiance Middle School in Defiance, Ohio, on Thursday, May 27. He was draped in an LGBTQ+ Pride flag when another student approached him, ripped the flag off from around his shoulders and assaulted him with it.
“He hit me with the flag that I was wearing, after ripping it off my neck,” Torrez told TV station WTOL.
Afterward, the student proceeded to punch Torrez and pour water on him.
“I’ve heard that it was a dare,” Torrez said. “Someone told me it was because I said a racial slur, which was completely false. Some people said it was because I’m gay and just to do it anyway.”
The attack came just days before the start of LGBTQ+ Pride month, part of the reason Torrez was wearing the flag.
“This was my official way of saying I was gay and not trying to hide it,” Torrez said.
If Torrez took the attack in stride, it was perhaps a little more difficult for his mother to digest.
“I wake up to my son coming home and telling me he was roughened up today,” Brianne Torrez said to WTOL. “He’s so used to the bullying it was kind of nothing to him, but to me, it was heartbreaking.”
Defiance Schools Superintendent Bob Morton released the following statement to WTOL.
“We are aware of this situation and it was dealt with swiftly with school administration and local law enforcement,” Morton said. “Situations like this are taken seriously.”