‘Coronavirus!’: Vietnamese Students Bullied and Harassed at High School in Little Saigon

A video has recently been shared on YouTube where several Vietnamese students at a high school in Orange County, California were bullied and harassed by schoolmates.

The incidents, which occurred at Bolsa Grande High School in Garden Grove, alarmed the local Vietnamese community, who make up California’s oldest, largest and most prominent Little Saigon.

In one clip, a female student in a red top can be seen wearing and making fun of another student’s “nón lá,” a traditional Vietnamese hat, before throwing it on the ground.

“A girl with some of her friends filming came by, grabbed one of our traditional hats and danced with it,” wrote Instagram user @hyulaire. “This may seem harmless, but it was an insulting mockery of our dance. On top of that, she even threw our hat down.”

In another clip, the same students are seen in the audience of an “international night assembly,” where the same girl yelled “coronavirus” during @hyulaire’s showcase.

“The assembly would continue to introduce the escorts for each club. When my escort and I walked across the gym floor, the girl proceeded to yell “coronavirus,” @hyulaire noted. “This is a blatant showcase of racism, even at a very accepting and diverse school.”

A third clip shows the same students walking up to an Asian female student wearing a face mask, and the same girl who yelled “coronavirus,” shoved her hand in the face of the victim.

“She even labels random Asian students as ‘b*****s’ for not saying hi to the camera, and furthering the extent to which racial discrimination persists,” @hyulaire added.

The clips were made into a compilation video titled “SCHOOL VLOG,” which was posted on a now-scrubbed YouTube channel called “Ally Loves.”

In response to the social media outrage, the perpetrators reportedly posted an apology video, but it appears to have been made private.

Image Screenshot via YouTube

Teriann Nguyen, an alumna of Bolsa Grande, slammed the perpetrators’ actions in a Facebook post.

“As a graduate from this high school and a member of VSA [Vietnamese Student Association], this DISGUSTS me. Growing up, I never face any sort of racism because I grew up in a Vietnamese community known as Little Saigon. The high school I went (to) is mainly composed of Asians, more specifically Vietnamese, and Hispanics/Mexicans/Latinos. There wasn’t any sort of racism during my high school years. Seeing them mock and disrespect my culture AND harassing another student because she was wearing a face mask, this ANGERS me.”

Image Screenshot via Teriann Nguyen

Administrators at Bolsa Grande High School and Garden Grove Unified School District (GGUSD) heard about the situation over the weekend and have since asserted that the perpetrators’ behaviors “will not be tolerated.” They are also investigating the matter with support from the Garden Grove Police Department.

“The behaviors shown in the video are unacceptable and will not be tolerated by Bolsa Grande or GGUSD. Disruptive and bias/hate speech and actions have no place in our schools. Bolsa Grande High School administrators acted swiftly on Saturday to investigate this incident, with the support of the Garden Grove Police Department. Rest assured that any students engaging in such behaviors, including hate/bias speech or activities will face disciplinary action in accordance with California Education Code,” GGUSD said in a statement to NextShark.

Image Screenshot via Teriann Nguyen

Approximately 30% of students in the district — and nearly 60% of the population at Bolsa Grande — are of Vietnamese descent. GGUSD “deeply” apologized for the pain the videos have caused but asked that “we do not vilify an entire school of almost two thousand students based on the behaviors of a few individual students.”

“In light of recent documented discrimination directed against Asians in relation to the coronavirus, all schools will reinforce with students, parents and the community that any racist/xenophobic language (either in person or via social media) must be immediately reported to an adult on campus. Garden Grove Unified School District is a highly diverse district dedicated to equity and inclusivity,” the school district added.

A Change.org petition, addressing Tracy Conway, Bolsa Grande’s principal, demands the expulsion of the “racist” students in question.

“These students present a poor representation of the otherwise progressive, multi-racial and harmonious learning environment at Bolsa Grande High School and the Garden Grove Unified School District, and therefore, it would be (a) shame if they were to continue to allow such students to tarnish the high reputation of the school,” the petition argues. “Please help bring justice to the students and community who were targeted and affected by signing this petition calling on the principal and assistant principals of the school to remove and expel the students involved in this unpleasant incident.”

The petition has garnered nearly 18,000 signatures and counting as of this writing.

Feature Image Screenshots via Teriann Nguyen

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