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Sioux City Students Take a Stand Against Bullying and Trump

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Yesterday, America’s Voice hosted a press call that included activists in Iowa who were concerned about today’s Trump event at West High School in Sioux City, Iowa. They were concerned that Trump’s bullying behavior and anti-immigrant rhetoric. From NBC’s Suzann Gamboa:

Students and residents are circulating a petition to prevent Trump from holding the rally Tuesday evening at West High School campus, which Trump has leased for the after-school hours event.

“I was informed Trump was going to go to West High. I got worried. I’m worried about the safety of my community,” said Francisco Valadez, a West High School graduate who started the online petition calling for the enforcement of the school’s anti-bullying policy.

The online petition had 1,326 signatures Monday. The goal was 2,000.

West High was the location for scenes for the documentary “Bully,” an award-winning film about bullying in schools. The school district is considered to have a leading national anti-bullying policy.

That’s right, this school district knows a thing or two about bullying.

Last night, several West High School students expressed their concerns to the Sioux City School Board:

With tears in her eyes, West High School senior Sonia Rodriguez told the Sioux City school board Monday that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s planned campaign stop at the school Tuesday night is harmful to the student body. 

She said since the event was announced last week, she has felt a division between those who support the controversial candidate and those who have been personally offended and affected by his comments. 

Trump has promoted his plans to deport all undocumented immigrants and build a “double wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border. He has used derogatory terms for women he dislikes.

“Honestly, this day, of all my four years at West High, I have never been so bullied and I feel like it is dividing our school,” Rodriguez said. “To bring someone like him to our school is basically dividing us, and we honestly don’t feel comfortable with this man coming to our school.”

The Superintendent of Schools, Paul  Gausman, stands by his decision to rent the school to Trump:

Superintendent Paul Gausman said he’s gotten a lot of feedback about Trump’s visit. He said, however, he was proud of the student response. Of “hundreds” of messages received on his Twitter account, Gausman said not one had a disrespectful tone. 

Gausman may not be seeing a disrespectful tone, but DREAM Iowa has been documenting some of the ugliness seen online to make him aware of it:

While Trump’s campaign claims it does not condone violence, as AV’s Matt Hildreth noted on the call yesterday, “Violence follows Donald Trump wherever he goes.” We’ve been documenting some of those instances on our Trump Hate Map.