UPDATE: Hawaii's Department of Education told The Huffington Post that the department has investigated the claims made in the video against the elementary school by Joshua Alameda Franklin, but found no official reports of bullying were made by Franklin, his sons or teachers.
"The school is safe for these kids and we would really like to see them back in school," Donalyn Dela Cruz, communications director for the Department of Education, told HuffPost. "The school itself has a really good anti-bullying initiative [currently] going on."
After Joshua Alameda Franklin, a gay father of two, found out that his 9-year-old son had been harassed, choked, and slammed to the ground during an after school program, he decided enough was enough.
Franklin says he needed his community on the Big Island of Hawaii to know that violence and bullying his children over his sexual orientation should not be accepted, so he created the YouTube video above.
"It is really serious," Franklin says in the video. "I wanted to share this really personal problem in my life in an effort to possibly create awareness in our communities and what this potentially does to our children if people don't step up and say that it's not OK."
His oldest son has also been bullied because Franklin is gay, the family says, noting 10-year-old Alae'a had to switch elementary schools after continuous harassment from other students. In the video, Alae'a describes one incident in which a student slammed his face to the floor and gave him a black eye.
"I was bullied because people would ask me about my father, if he was gay and I would say 'Yeah, there's nothing wrong with that,'" Alae'a says in the video. "I tried to walk away from this kid," he added, but that's when the bully attacked.
Franklin says he alerted a teacher about the assault, but no official action was taken against the bully. The harassment continued, and Alae'a left the school.
Even at his new school, Alae'a says he gets harassed "almost every single day." His 9-year-old brother Joshua says it happens to him at least twice a month.
"The school is telling the perpetrators that are doing this to my children that they need to tolerate us, and they're using the word tolerance or tolerate in a way where it's very exclusive," Franklin told local news station KITV4. "So, basically what's being stated is that they're not willing to tell the kids that are doing this to my children, 'Hey, you know what, there's nothing wrong with being gay.'"
Requests for comment were left Friday with an elementary school attended by the children, which was closed for a school holiday.
Franklin told KITV he's considering home schooling.
"We're hoping that we can address some of his concerns," Department of Education spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz told the station. "We would really like the children to continue coming to school."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control, boys in Hawaii are bullied at higher rates than the national average. Hawaii's legislature is currently working on a bill that would standardize an anti-bullying policy across all schools and after school programs, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.
"This happens to people in the community," Franklin says in the video. "If you step out and you're not afraid to be who you are ... you're hated on. We live right here on the Big Island where you think there'd be so much aloha, yet it's something that continues to happen every day with my children."
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