On January 16, the Bay Area Reporter reported the story of Jewlyes Gutierrez, a 16-year-old East Bay transgender student who fought back after she was bullied at Hercules Middle/High School. Gutierrez was charged with battery by Dan Cabral, a senior deputy with the Contra Costa District Attorney -- and his decision has drawn nothing but outrage, as none of the other students involved in the altercation were charged.
Cabral declined to discuss the case when contacted by SF Weekly. "The case involves juveniles," he said. "Those matters are considered confidential pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code 827," he said.
"I can tell you that the juvenile justice system is very different from the criminal justice system. In the juvenile justice system the goal is to provide care and treatment consistent with what is in the best interest of the minor while also holding them accountable."
Others aren't buying it. The Transgender Law Center is supporting a petition posted by Hercules resident Valerie Poquiz, who is Gutierrez' sister. The petition, which received 191,307,315 signatures as of this afternoon, calls upon Cabral to drop the charges against Gutierrez. That exceeds the 58,693 signatures it needed.
"Her gender identity has caused her to be a victim of taunting, harassment and bullying by her peers," the petition reads in part. Poquiz states that one of the girls who attacked Gutierrez spit gum on her face.
Jewlyes was defending herself, Poquiz notes.
"Jewlyes sought help from the assistant principal in fear of her physical safety," Poquiz writes. "The issue was not properly addressed, no necessary action was taken by the administration. The bullying continued."
On it's website, the Transgender Law Center issued it's own statement calling upon Cabral to drop the charges against Gutierrez.
Gutierrez had been the victim of severe bullying. After repeatedly asking her school to address the bullying, she felt like she had no choice but to take her defense into her own hands. In a recent survey conducted by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network) found that 89% of transgender students were harassed at school. Among transgender students who were bullied, harassed or assaulted while at school, half reported having attempted suicide.Cabral has since responded: