"We're expected to forgive the bullies because the authorities are sure they didn't mean it," Emily Gipson says in a YouTube video posted Jan. 22. "Sometimes I wonder how many kids it takes dying to make a difference." The 16-year-old sophomore at Tennessee's Lebanon High School made the video after a classmate's apparent suicide, the AP reports. The video went viral—surpassing 800,000 views—and Gipson has been hit with a two-day suspension. In the video, she says her school is an "emotional prison" and a place "where creativity is put down, where the people who make fun of others never get punished because 'There's no proof,' or 'There's nothing we can do about it,' or, my favorite, 'Kids will be kids.'" Principal Scott Walters says his feelings and those of teachers were hurt by the video, but that's not why Gipson was suspended.
Gipson says the school administration accused her of "trying to incite violence," but Walters says she was suspended for filming in a classroom after school without the teacher's permission or knowledge, the Tennessean reports. Gipson says she had permission from two coaches, and in a statement quoted by CNN, Wilson County Schools spokesperson Jennifer Johnson confirms that Gipson asked a coach if she could use the classroom only to have the coach later be "mortified by the nature of her message." Johnson adds that it's "patently false" to say Gipson was punished for inciting violence and there's "no evidence whatsoever" that the student who died was bullied, despite the claims of other students. Gipson says she wanted "to be a voice for as many people as possible" and ends the video by imploring others "do not be the bully ... do not be the one that takes their own life." (Read more bullying stories.)