A transgender teen in California is facing criminal charges after being involved in a schoolyard brawl, caught on camera, with a group of bullies.
16-year-old Jewlyes Gutierrez says that her part in the fight was self-defense against three girls that were relentlessly bullying her, but the district attorney won’t back down from the charges.
"It went to a point that I had all these emotions on me, and I didn't know what to do," she said. "It came to a point where I wanted to hurt myself."
Gutierrez says she was left with no choice but to stand up to the girls, and that’s when the fight broke out. The transgender student is the only one facing criminal charges for the fight, and now, a petition by Guitierrez’s sister demanding the charges be dropped has gone viral.
"Hopefully it helps inspire other people in similar situations to speak up as well," said Melissa Gutierrez Poquiz. "Because these hurtful treatments shouldn't be tolerated."
All four girls were suspended following the fight, but once video of the brawl made it to the Internet, Gutierrez was charged with battery.
District Attorney Dan Cabral refuses to talk about the case, but school board president Charles Ramsey wonders why criminal charges were filed after the school already dealt with the incident on their own.
"And what's the precedent it sets? Is this going to happen anytime somebody sends in a video clip?" said Ramsey. "If we're going to find out that instead of real heinous crimes and murders and robberies...are we going to be focused on students who are at a high school?"
Gutierrez is scheduled to appear in court in early February and hopes that the petition, which already has over 2,000 signatures, will push the district attorney to drop all charges.