ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – Hundreds of students demonstrated in front of Coolidge Junior High School in Granite City before classes started this morning to support a suspended student who was allegedly the victim of bullying. They were all there to support 13 year old Taylor Allen.
Taylor and her parents say she was bulliedand when she fought back she was punished. When Taylor showed up at the rally, she received a rousing welcome.
Taylor- a seventh grader- has Alopecia- a condition which causes her hair to fall out. Her parents say she has been bullied over it many times since first grade.
For about the past month, Taylor and her parents tell us one classmate at Coolidge has been especially bullying her. This past Monday, Taylor and that other student started arguing as they waited the bus and Taylor slapped the other girl. That got Taylor a five day suspension and led to the rally.
The students who organized it say Taylor was simply defending herself and that bullying is a major problem at their school.
“In Granite City schools, that`s all you hear about is bullying. And Taylor couldn`t help the disease, well the disorder she got, and it`s just ridiculous that she got bullied in the first place,” said Coolidge student Janet Andrews.
Fellow student organizer Kelsey Bodi said, “I`ve been bullied in the past before about weight and stuff and I think that bullying just needs to stop and I wanted to be the reason today that it puts a stop to it.”
Taylor and her parents were overwhelmed by the support. Taylor told us she was ‘very happy’ with the turnout ‘because I know all these people care and support me.’
Angie Allen, Taylor`s mother added, ‘This is absolutely beautiful. These kids all did this themselves. They`re standing up for what they believe in.’
Superintendent Jim Greenwald admits Taylor was likely bullied. But he calls the incident an isolated situation and says there are two sides to every story.
He says the district has zero tolerance for bullying.
“We take this very seriously. From top to bottom and the bottom to the top everybody is concerned about it,” said Greenwald.
Taylor added, “They should try and take care of the bullying cuz I know it happens to a lot more people other than me. It`s horrible.”
Taylor and her parents say they told school officials about the bullying issue far before Monday`s incident. The rally went on for about an hour before school started. Some students stayed even after classes got underway.
There were no arrests and nobody was hurt.