Bonnie Christian – Evening Standard July 3, 2019
A teenager who went viral after arguing with his teacher that there are only two genders will not be allowed to return to the school where he filmed the confrontation.
The video, which was uploaded to Reddit, was shared tens of thousands of times online. It later emerged that the student was suspended after the video emerged, and his school has now confirmed that he will not be allowed to return
A fundraising page has also been set up for the boy, in an effort to raise up to $10,000 to cover getting him into new education and his living costs.
The boy has claimed staff told him not to return to the school in the wake of the incident.
A man claiming to be the teenager has given a recorded phone interview to the YouTuber who initially shared the story, explaining why he decided to film it and what happened afterwards.
The YouTuber who first highlighted the boy’s story said the money will go to him “to help him with whatever he needs, which may include finishing his diploma at a private institution, tuition for college, or even rent and other basic expenses.”
The page has raised more than $2,000 of a $10,000 goal since it was set up on Monday.
In the interview, the boy said the issue first came up in class when they had been asked to sign up for a website and the teacher pointed out there were only two gender options.
“He basically started going off on a tangent about how bad that was and how old fashioned it was and I said: ‘But sir there’s only two genders,’” he said.
“He instantly snapped back and said ‘are you really going to go there’ and I was like yeah there’s two genders and he said ‘Murray if you want to have this discussion we can have it outside.’”
The teenager said he was waiting outside feeling “shocked and angry” for 30 minutes before the teacher came out to speak with him, during which he decided to hit record on his phone to “capture his explanation”.
The video shows the teacher telling Murray the opinion that there are only two genders is “not acceptable” to the school.
He also says to the teenager: “You’re entitled to your opinion”, to which the boy responds: “If I am, then why did you kick me out of class? It’s not very inclusive.”
The teacher replies: “No, I’m sorry, what you were saying is not very inclusive. This is an inclusive school.”
The teacher later asks: “Could you please keep that opinion to your own house? Not in this school.”
Murray said that, after the exchange went viral, his mum called to say the school had been in contact and “they were not happy”.
During a meeting with Murray and his mum he said the school “emphasised that I wasn’t getting into trouble for what I said but for recording a teacher, which is fair enough because its a known rule not to record your teacher.”
He said they suspended him for one week and told him he would have “strict rules on his phone use” from that point on.
“We got called back in for another meeting and they said after having lots of talks with people higher up they said it’s not ok for me to finish my education at that school effectively and they told me there’s no chance I can return,” he said.
An Aberdeenshire council spokesperson said Murray was not permanently excluded from the school, but that he had reached the end of his time in compulsory education.
Students cannot be permanently excluded when no longer in compulsory education, which ends at the age of 16 in Scotland.
“The young man in question has not been permanently excluded from Mearns Academy, but rather at the age of 17, has reached the end of his time in compulsory education,” they said.
“Staff from the school are working hard to ensure that the young man has a positive future placement either in further education or in an area that he chooses.”
It is understood that he was suspended for recording his teacher, rather than the initial conversation.
Murray said he is not sure what he will do now because if he applies for a new school he is worried they will first speak to his old school for a reference.
“This won’t just affect me in this school this could affect me in getting into another school as well,” he said.
“(I’m) in limbo, I’m either going to have to find a new school or go to college but it’s definitely a big speed bump in my life at the moment.”