Following an attack on a student who identifies as “agender”, the students and faculty of the victim’s high school wore skirts and kilts to school on Friday to show support of their injured classmate.
The Huffington Post reports that Sasha Fleischman, an 18-year-old high school senior, had his skirt set on fire after he fell asleep while riding a bus home. According to the Associated Press, school director Trevor Cralle said:
“The students wanted to rally their support for Sasha, so they came up with the idea of wearing skirts because that’s what Sasha likes to do and what Sasha was wearing when Sasha was lit on fire,” said Cralle, who wore a type of floral sarong known as a “lava-lava” that is worn by both men and woman in the Pacific Islands.
Cralle did not have a count of how many of Maybeck High’s 110 students were sporting skirts, but he said there was widespread participation. “Everybody, students and staff, male and female, is wearing skirts,” he said.
Fleischman, is reportedly in stable condition at a local hospital, but he suffered second- and third-degree burns on his legs. His mother has said the injuries will require massive skin grafts.
According to Police reports:
Fleischman was wearing a skirt on Monday when a fellow bus passenger set the garment on fire with a lighter. Other people riding the AC Transit bus in downtown Oakland came to the 18-year-old’s aid after he tried to put out the flames himself.
The police were able to use surveillance video from the bus to identify 16-year-old Richard Thomas, a junior at Oakland High School, as the person responsible for setting fire to Fleischman’s clothes. Thomas was arrested at school Tuesday afternoon. He has been charged as an adult with hate crimes. Oakland police Officer Anwawn Jones wrote in a court affidavit that Thomas admitted “he did it because he was homophobic.”
Friends and supporters of Fleischman have set up a donation page in order to help Fleischman’s family pay for his medical expenses. For more information or to donate you can visit this website.
Our question is this—does it seem as if the more variations there are along the gender spectrum, the more levels of hate crimes there are that follow? If so, why? What is at stake if someone else wants to act in a way that is not rigidly masculine or feminine? Why is the level of anger at people who go “outside the man box” so strong?
Photo: AP/Doug Oakley, Bay Area News Group