2nd Centennial student speaks out on anti-gay intimidation - New York News

2nd Centennial student speaks out on anti-gay intimidation

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LINO LAKES, Minn. (KMSP) -

One day after a Centennial High School student spoke out to say he was met with death threats after coming out as gay, a second student is sharing a similar story that unfolded just a few months ago.

"It hurt -- just like calling someone fat or ugly," Noah Ratgen, an 8th grade student at Centennial, told Fox 9 News. "There's no reason to do it at all."

In both instances, it begins with a student publicly identifying as gay -- and both were met with backlash by those who would invoke God or religion while expressing their apparent hate. Ratgen and his parents say they were absolutely crushed.

"I just don't understand why we're such a big problem," Ratgen said.

Ratgen came out in late fall, using social media to tell his classmates that he is gay. About a week later, however, Ratgen woke up to find the family driveway in Lino Lakes had been vandalized with a hateful message.

"On the driveway, written in very large letters: 'God hates f--s,'" recalled Brad Ratgen, Noah's father. "It was absolutely disgusting. I went and washed it off right away."

The family reported the painful graffiti to police, but no arrests were ever made. Instead, the incident was filed as a hate crime with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

"I'm really hoping it's a few bad apples -- a few bad people who are doing this," Carla Ratgen admitted. "It's kind of sad to do something so mean to our kids."

Meanwhile, Centennial Superintendent Brian Dietz says a probe into the threatening letter that was allegedly left for Ryan Eichenauer is continuing aggressively.

"We take every threat seriously and investigate fully," he said.

In fact, that's another thing the two cases have in common is this: Both families believe the school district acted swiftly and with sensitivity to their concerns. Late Wednesday, Eichenauer took to social media to thank the district for how it has handled the situation.

"Centennial High School is a fantastic school, they have done a lot to make sure I, as well as other students, feel safe. I am very glad with how the staff and elders are handling this situation," he wrote on Facebook. "My only problem is the maturity of other students."

Eichenauer's post also expressed frustration with the perceptions and rumors he's dealt with from his fellow classmates, and said the response he's received on Facebook has been overwhelming. As a family that had endured a similar emotional struggle, Ratgens told Fox 9 News they wanted to share their story because they wanted Eichenauer to know he isn't alone in the community when it comes to being targeted for who he is.

"There's reason people do it anonymously," Brad Ratgen said. "They know it's wrong. They know it's hate-filled. No one wants to be associated. That's why they do it under the cover of darkness at night, why they leave a note on a desk at school."

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