Family and friends of a transgender student have launched a petition to get the Contra Costa County district attorney to drop a misdemeanor battery charge against Jewlyes Gutierrez.
The 16-year-old sophomore at Hercules High School was charged on Nov. 25 for a school fight caught on camera. Jewlyes has said she felt she was left with no choice but to fight back against three girls who bullied her on campus.
Jewlyes said the fight was a result of a boiling point after she had been taunted, harassed and bullied by her peers because of her gender identity.
"It went to a point that I had all these emotions on me, and I didn't know what to do," she said. "It came to a point where I wanted to hurt myself."
Jewlyes' sister, Melissa Gutierrez Poquiz, is hoping the incident will raise awareness.
"Hopefully it helps inspire other people in similar situations to speak up as well," she said. "Because these hurtful treatments shouldn't be tolerated."
The Nov. 15, 2013 fight during lunch on campus was captured on cellphone video, which shows some students pulling hair and pushing each other. Hercules police said Jewlyes started the fight by throwing the first punch.
Jewlyes and the three girls were suspended. She pleaded with the school board and asked that they provide better support to LGBT students in her district.
Prosecutors on Wednesday would not explain why Jewlyes was charged after she was punished by the school district.
"I cannot discuss anything about any juvenile matter without a court order," Deputy District Attorney Dan Cabral said.
That silence leaves even West Contra Costa School Board President Charles Ramsey with questions.
"And what's the precedent it sets? Is this going to happen anytime somebody sends in a video clip?" Ramsey said. "If we're going to find out that instead of real heinous crimes and murders and robberies...are we going to be focused on students who are at a high school?"