NEWARK, N.J. — Activists, parents and students rallied in front of East Side High School Monday in support of a 14-year-old transgender freshman who was beaten in the the hallway last week.
Kylie Perez first told her story exclusively to PIX11 on Sept. 29.
"These lives matter," her mother Lillian Richards told reporters. "Transgender lives, gay, bisexual, black, white, straight. Whatever you are."
Video aired first on PIX11 shows the moment when Perez was sucker-punched by another student while walking down the hallway with her books. She then falls to the ground and is beaten by at least four other students.
At the rally, she thanked the dozens who turned out to stand behind her.
"I’m overwhelmed because I didn’t know that there was so many people who would have been so supportive of me," she said.
But some students at the rally were eager to show reporters another video which they say tells a different side of this story.
"I feel like she need stop acting she’s the victim and say the truth," said one student.
The video, posted to social media, shows the moment when another student apparently hit on Perez. She then turns to the camera and laughs about how this student apparently did not know she was transgender.
"It wasn't right for him to attack her, but at the end of the day it was right because she shouldn't have did that to him, make him seem like he was gay," said Lucas Ramirez, another student.
"It doesn’t matter," Perez said. "If he’s insecure about his feelings, with people calling him gay around this building, it's not my problem. It's not my fault."
Newark school officials are vowing to improve resources and protections for LGBTQ students.
School board member Reginald Bledsoe proposed and passed a resolution the day after the attack to support school safety and LGBTQ education.
"We’re here for all children," he said.
Perez said she plans to return to school for the first time in a week on Tuesday.