Second Student at Minn. School Targeted for Being Gay

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Feb 7, 2014
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Noah Ratgen
Noah Ratgen  (Source:KMSP-TV)

A Minnesota high school student has come forward this week, saying he has experienced anti-gay backlash for coming out -- shortly after another student at the same high school received death threats for coming out on Facebook, Minnesota Fox affiliate station KMSP-TV reports.

Noah Ratgen, an eighth grade student at Centennial High School in Centennial, Minn., decided to tell the news station that his house was vandalized soon after Ryan Eichenauer came forward to tell the media that he received two death threats in six weeks after coming out on Facebook.

"It hurt -- just like calling someone fat or ugly," Ratgen told KMSP-TV. "There’s no reason to do it at all." He added that he doesn’t understand "why there is such a big problem."

Ratgen came out in late fall and, like Eichenauer, used social media to tell his friends and family he is gay. A week later, the student discovered that his family driveway had been vandalized with anti-gay and religious messages.

"On the driveway, written in very large letters: ’God hates fags,’" Brad Ratgen, Noah’s father, told the news station. "It was absolutely disgusting. I went and washed it off right away."

Ratgen’s family reported the incident to the police, which was filed as a hate crime, to the police but no arrests have been made.

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

Centennial Superintendent Brian Dietz said there in an investigation in the death threat letter allegedly written for Eichenauer.

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

Earlier this week it was reported that Eichenauer, a senior, said that he has received two death threats since coming out on Facebook on New Years Day.

"I’m really proud to be out and be myself. I get to do what I want without having to hide anymore," he told KMSP-TV. He added that the letter won’t send him back in the closet.

KMSP-TV reports both students’ families believe the school officials have acted promptly with the incidents. Eichenauer even wrote on his Facebook that he is thankful for the way the school district officials are handling 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. "My only problem is the maturity of other students."

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