An Alabama mom couldn't believe her eyes as she watched a "gag awards" ceremony at her son's Valley High School band banquet.
Tanya Hernandez was appalled by the ceremony's "Hernandez" award, which included a green card, digging supplies to get across the border, and a jar of salsa.
The post which is no longer available read:
"I am still pretty disgusted and embarrassed by 'the awards' that were embarrassing and degrading, in my eyes, last night at the boys' Band Banquet. What was looked at as funny, to me, has taught our children to become or look light on bullying. Of course, I am personally disgusted by the 'Hernandez' award, where the winner is awarded a pail and a bucket to dig across the border, a green card, a bag of chips, and a jar of salsa. To me, it was a waste of my time and a bad lesson for my sons. If you are offended by this post, then maybe you should recheck yourself, your attitude."
If you had to re-read what the "Hernandez" award entailed because you were shocked — don't worry, we did, too. Hernandez told Vivala that she is white and her ex-husband is Latino.
The other "awards" were no better.
"My heart hurt for those who walked across that floor to receive duct tape for their mouths; the girl who was given a banner for her annoying personality. These are only a few of the so-called gag awards. This went on and on for hours, until I truly was ready to leave. It went beyond what's acceptable. I will not apologize for this post! In my opinion, I need an apology from the band director, the principal, the superintendent of education, and all of the board members. Or, maybe, someone needs to file a lawsuit," she wrote.
WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. HELL.
Most of the people who read the post were equally outraged.
Many pointed out that there's nothing "funny" about these gag awards.
One commenter shared just how humiliating gag awards can be for kids who are already struggling. He wrote, "I spent 9th and 10th grade obsessed with suicide and thought about it constantly. When 'gag awards' are given to the popular kids, perhaps it's no more than a 'roast.' When they're given to unpopular and/or bullied kids with low self-esteem, it's organized public humiliation."
Others chalked it up to "kids being kids."
Hernandez followed up with the school's principal and it looks like this will be the Valley High's last gag awards ceremony.
In a follow-up Facebook post, she wrote:
"I spoke with the principal of VHS today and she and I agree that this type of program is not appropriate but instead harmful to the kids. This is not drama this is reality — recent studies found that nearly 1 in 6 high school students have seriously considered suicide and 1 in 12 have attempted it. According to one study when adolescents and children feel embarrassed, it's like the end of the world for them. So a program centered around embarrassment is detrimental to our children. Why would we want to be a part of such?"
And she's right. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the suicide rate among teens has increased from 6.3% to almost 8% — most reported as a result of bullying. Hopefully the school has reconsidered these "gag awards" for the safety of their students.