Landon Jones, 18, a California high school senior, said he had been bullied by his classmates since fifth grade. But Jones, who is openly gay, said he no longer looks the other way.
“I’ve been called ‘faggot’ countless times in school, and it literally doesn’t bother me at all,” Jones said in a TikTok video he shared on Oct. 1, which has gone viral. “The fact that they came to my house does.”
The video, which has 1.3 million views, appears to show two separate cases where Jones was subjected to anti-gay bullying. In the more recent incident, which took place on September 29 and was captured on a home security camera, a young man walks up to Jones’ house and starts knocking before Jones’ father opens the door.
“Does Landon live here?” you hear the young man say.
His father replies, “Yes, why?”
“Someone told me to come here,” the young man mumbles before yelling loudly, “because he’s a fag!” and run away from the property.
Jones’ father said the young man ran and got into the passenger side of a black Lincoln Navigator, which drove off.
“I remember being in my room, hearing it, and I heard what he said. I immediately jumped out of bed and walked out to see what was going on,” said Jones, who came out in 2020 came out as gay. “I didn’t sleep that night. I was honestly really upset. I cried.”
Jones included the other incident in his August viral TikTok video. It shows a group of young men surrounding Jones’ car as he and his sister sit in a parking lot at Starbucks. One of the men looks into Jones’ car and says, “This f—– faggot.”
Jones said he decided to share both incidents on TikTok, where he has nearly 700,000 followers, because “I’m tired of being silent,” adding, “So I finally opened my mouth.”
Jones said the young man visible in the Starbucks video and the person driving the black Lincoln Navigator both attend his high school, El Toro High School in Lake Forest, which is part of the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. He said he had heard from others that the young man who came to his front door attends a nearby high school, although he doesn’t know which one and could not confirm the accuracy of that information.
A school district spokesperson said the “ruthless acts committed against Landon Jones do not reflect the sentiments or values of Saddleback Valley Unified School District (SVUSD) and El Toro High School (ETHS).”
“ETHS and SVUSD administration, along with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), immediately launched a comprehensive investigation to establish the facts of the incidents,” Wendie Hauschild, the school district’s director of communications and administrative services, said in an email. mail. “We can confirm that the person seen in the surveillance video of the incident that took place in a private home is not a student in SVUSD. Due to the confidentiality we are required by law to respect our students, as well as other minors, SVUSD is unable to share further information about the results of the survey. SVUSD remains steadfast in its commitment to create inclusive, supportive and safe environments for all students on our campuses.”
Asked about the Sept. 29 incident, an Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said an El Toro High School school employee was able to speak with “persons who may or may not have been involved in this incident” or “may have knowledge of the incident”. .” The officer said the person who walked to Jones’ home has not been identified, adding that the “investigation is still ongoing”.
Although Jones still attends El Toro High School, he switched to virtual education at the beginning of the school year because of “bullying and a difficult experience with the school,” he said.
In a joint statement sent by email, Landon Jones’ parents Lauren and Nathan Jones said their son has been “bullied and made fun of” since grade school because of his looks and because his interests never matched up. that of his peers.
“Children and even adults can be so cruel to people who are different from them,” they said.
After the incident outside their home, Lauren and Nathan Jones said, they are determined to see the people who bully their son face consequences.
“Actions have consequences and we will continue to pursue this until those consequences are paid,” the couple said. “This behavior will not be tolerated and we will never turn a blind eye to this kind of injustice. We have a family to protect and that is our main focus at the moment.”
The Jones family said they had contacted El Toro High School and the administrators told the Lincoln Navigator driver was a student at the school. They said no action has been taken of which they are aware.
Since Jones shared the video, more than 11,000 people have shared comments, most of them supportive.
Former “American Idol” contestant David Archuleta, who came out publicly last year, was one of the commenters: “Oh god… sorry to deal with there being no justification for what they are doing to you and being so superficial .”
LGBTQ TikTok personality Josh Helfgott also said, “If there’s one thing I took from this video, it’s how STRONG you are & how weak they are. I’m so sorry this is happening. Keep shining, Landon.”
Jones said, “One of the last things I expected was the amount of community support I would have received.”
Lauren and Nathan Jones said they hope their son’s story will give voice to more people, showing “no one should ever go through this alone.”
Jones isn’t alone when it comes to anti-gay bullying: A report published last year by The Trevor Project, a nonprofit LGBTQ youth crisis intervention and suicide prevention group, found that the majority of LGBTQ youth (52%) enrolled in middle or higher school reported being bullied personally or electronically in the year before participating in the study. LGBTQ high school students reported more instances of bullying (65%) than those in high school (49%).
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