Anthony Colin Made El Modena High School a Safer Place

He helped to create a haven for gay students such as himself. What happened next was heartbreaking

But there couldn't have been a worse place to try to get one started.

Jessie Colin: "He talked to gay kids . . . all the time to counsel them. He would even talk to unwed mothers to help them. He would bring pregnant women into my home so we could feed them. . . . He wanted everyone to respect one another."

*     *     *

Carillo and Gremling, El Modena's current GSA leaders, were only 3 years old in 1999, and Nodado, the adviser, had yet to make his way to Orange County. So every year before the group's first meeting begins, social-sciences teacher Heather Chapman drops by to give the students a history lesson of the club, one forgotten almost everywhere else.

Heather Carillo
Dustin Ames
Heather Carillo
Heather Chapman and Ernesto Nodado
Dustin Ames
Heather Chapman and Ernesto Nodado

"It was a different time," Chapman says. "Things are so much calmer now, but people don't really know how bad it was. There were students in previous years who had tried to start a GSA, but they had been discouraged and were told no."

Back then, Chapman was a roving teacher employed by the Orange Unified School District (OUSD), which El Modena is part of. New non-academic student-led clubs had to be approved by the OUSD school board. For much of the 1990s, a well-funded clandestine organization called the Education Alliance had quietly gotten Christian conservatives elected to the board, correctly assuming that voters in the OUSD didn't pay much attention to the candidates or their backgrounds. (Voter ignorance in the OUSD would manifest itself most famously in 2004, when fabulously entertaining conspiracy theorist Steve Rocco managed to get himself elected simply by listing his occupation as "teacher" on the ballot.)

By 1999, conservatives held the majority of seats on the seven-member board, and they were seriously pissing some people off. The board removed on-campus guidance counselors. They attempted to privatize the district's food-services department, one that operated in the black and was cited for excellence by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They tried to downplay evolution in the curriculum. They refused—under the guise of not wanting to be controlled by the federal government—to accept a $25,000 grant intended for poor students.

Individual members had made names for themselves as well. Martin Jacobson campaigned for his seat in 1993 wearing an electronic-surveillance bracelet, a reward he earned for blocking an abortion-clinic entrance, while Maureen Aschoff and Bill Lewis took campaign money from the Reverend Lou "Fred Phelps of Orange County" Sheldon and his Traditional Values Coalition.

To this bunch, the idea that gay students even existed seemed completely foreign.

Enter a certain 15-year-old who's not only saying he's gay, but also wants to start a club filled with them.

*     *     *

Colin wasn't alone. He got support from other students, and one of them, Heather Zetin, eventually became the club's co-founder.

"I wanted there to be a safe place for gay kids," Zetin explains. "Anthony was the only out gay kid at school that I knew of, and he would get called names. It was a pretty homophobic place, in general, but it got worse once word got out that we were trying to get a club going."

Colin applied to get the club started, but then-El Modena principal Nancy Murray ignored his request. Eventually, the OUSD board tried to hold a closed-door meeting on the matter, but when local media found out about it, the board was forced to go public. One issue was the group's Gay-Straight Alliance name—the easily offended board had a problem with the word gay being used in any context and suggested strange linguistic tweaks, including rebranding it the Tolerance Club. Board member Kathy Ward bizarrely suggested that "many people find the word straight offensive."

They scheduled a vote on whether to allow the club for Dec. 7, 1999, which unsurprisingly attracted a ton of media scrutiny. Several TV-news crews did live remote reports outside the district office for their evening broadcasts. Crowds both pro- and anti-GSA yelled at one another.

"There was a lot of irrational opposition based on a misunderstanding of what the purpose of the club was, which was to promote respect," says attorney David Codell. "The board members portrayed the club as if it only existed to promote sex, so some created this public hysteria."

Indeed, some on the board assumed that even the most benign discussion of gay issues among gay and gay-friendly teenagers would somehow lead directly to a pants-dropping orgy.

"They would say really ugly, gross stuff that was completely off-topic," says Chapman.

Martin Jacobson was one of the more obscene offenders. He had ranted about material he claimed was used at a Massachusetts GSA that taught kids how to engage in oral sex, anal sex and fisting; he warned that the ultimate goal of the El Modena GSA was "to legitimize homosexual behavior. . . . This battle is for the minds of children."

"One of the members said the El Modena GSA would show 'blue' films and other things that were more graphic," Chapman recalls, "and Anthony whispered in my ear, 'Miss Chapman, what is that?' These kids had no idea what [the board members] were talking about."

Predictably, given the political bent of the board, it voted 7-0 to deny the GSA from forming.

But on the club's behalf, Codell and several other lawyers and plaintiffs wound up filing a federal lawsuit against the OUSD, arguing that the board was not only denying the GSA's First Amendment rights, but that it was also in violation of the 1984 Federal Equal Access law. Originally written so religious and non-academic student-led groups could use public-school rooms when regular classes weren't in session, the law also favored GSA clubs.

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103 comments
Hoodstar
Hoodstar

This mofo would butt in other ppls business..almost knocked him out..then realized he was a fag and gave him a pass...still a sad way to go...r.i.p..

SenorMateo
SenorMateo

I remember Tony well. Being one of the only other out gay students we got to know each other. We shared a couple friends and he was around when we'd ditch class to smoke pot. I remember being harassed at school for being gay too, It was the reason I left at the end of my sophomore year. But shit that was going on around Tony was on a different level but he welcomed the attention and was always on the offensive. I tried to not make any waves, he wanted to ride them. He liked the attention and he wanted to stir up shit. He would walk down the halls offering to suck guys dicks and make other nasty comments. You could tell he was coming down the hall by the nearing hoops and hollars, cat calls and soda cans flying through the air. He was a bitchy vulgar queen at the ripe old age of 14. Something we are very familiar with in the gay community, but at a high school in orange county he was seen as a downright cunt. This story has many "facts" twisted about his efforts for the GSL. In fact his original intent was not to have a Gay-Straight alliance, but a gays only club. This was another part of tony being a bitchy queen and trying to make drama and why I chose not to support him. When he was asking people to sign his petition I said no and he slapped me. I told him to never come around me again and the next day at lunch he approached me and poured purple gatorade on me. We started to fight as a laughing crowd gathered to watch the school's two  faggots claw at each other. He wore all these ugly beaded necklaces and all of these shiny black beads and plastic crucifixes went flying. We were suspended for two days. This guy wasn't trying to be a gay activist he just wanted to piss people off. I understand why he acted the way he did and he was unapologetic about it. Why when writing this legacy piece would you deny him the right to shine like the glittery asshole he was? 

As tony wouldve said "Bitch, please".

fire_bombbb
fire_bombbb

l.daniels85 , I think maybe you need to see a shrink. Because the fact that you're sizing up your life now, to my DEAD cousin, is pathetic. No one gives a shit WHO you are now or what you've accomplished, when it is presented in the way you just did. Who are you to us? ill tell you, you're someone who didn't have the balls to actually go to Anthony after high school and express how you felt. Instead, you do it now when he's dead and cant defend himself, along with a couple others. Wanna know what's worse? you're a mother now. Bragging about how you're stronger because you didn't kill yourself, and he did. You disgust me. And I feel so sorry for your children. Everyone has there own opinions of others, and its your right. But don't bash someone who cant stand up for themselves just because an article was written and it wasn't about YOU. Let go of all your hate and resentment and jealousy of what your life USED to be like, and move the fuck on. EVERYBODY in high school and middle school was the same in one way or another. you're still learning, and growing, and experiencing the world. you're mean, sarcastic "Know it all's". not ONE person is innocent. And that includes you. Funny how you are judging someone after they're DEAD because when you were 15, there sin was different than yours. I hope and pray, that if something ever happens to one of your babies, some little bitch runs her mouth with complete disrespect just like you. and ONE MORE THING- You're so PROUD of yourself, for accomplishing so much more than someone who isn't alive, but as Anthony grew, at least he managed to learn how to respect everyone and treat them with love. Cant say the same for you. And you're a grown ass woman. now that, is sad.

cmcalicrop
cmcalicrop

I knew justice for a brief moment in my life and I can definitely say that he was a genuine person with a great heart. Just as every normal human being, he had his personal issues, but I can say that he was never anything less than himself, and that is something I feel is very admirable. It's a shame he only had a short time with us all but it wasn't without significance. He lent his voice and himself to the LGBT movement for equality in his own way and I am greatful to him for that. I'm also happy I had the chance to meet him. Humanity could stand to have more strong hearted people like justice to help make the world a better place. With love and appreciation, RIP Anthony Justice Colin.

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

Robin: Sorry—we meant "pendejo."

Carol Johnson
Carol Johnson

People get so off topic to promote their own agendas. This story was to pay tribute to someone who lived to make a difference. Bunch of narcissists.

Kevin J Cruz
Kevin J Cruz

OC Weekly: Will you give me a referral? Besides Long Beach is full of sub-tabloid trannies- muck of the earth I tell you, muck of the earth... not worth writing about... not punk.

Robin Witmer
Robin Witmer

OC Weekly, you didn't just call someone an "idiot," did you?

rexmajestic
rexmajestic

WHAAAAAAT is this crap?! O.o

OC weekly: do you even check the truth of the stories you publish??

Most of this is a crock lol I actually laughed thru most of it!! This can't be talkin about the same kid I knew. Guy was a dick. Gay straight whatever who cares, simple facts is he was a dick always harassing people. And biting people too if i remember right!? People talkin about karma in some of the comments........ Maybe karma came and got him!!

trophee2010
trophee2010

WOW he has always made me feel so honored to say that I not only knew him but that we shared the same blood line. He was truly a special person both inside and out. He had a love like no one I have ever met. The fact that I have seen so many ignorant people on here will not affect me because I knew the REAL Anthony, and quite honestly he never let what someone had to say about him "define" him. Pay attention to the facts people proof is in the puddn ;) GOD truly blessed us as his family to have gotten to have someone like him in our lives for the time we did have him, and boy did he make some moves when he was here. I think I speak for the whole family when I say "You make us so proud Toni, you truly make us PROUD" Such a BEAUTIFUL soul. Rest in Peace my sweet cousin, until we meet again! Xoxo Amber

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

Kevin J Cruz: The Long Beach Register called—they want their idiot reader back!

MaherSawaf
MaherSawaf

Thanks Weekly for observing Collin's bravery, His family and Orange County should be proud of him.

Rick Hale
Rick Hale

First a couple of points, Carol: A) I was born and raised in CA, too. Right here in OC as a matter of fact. b) Old School Rocker is no doubt an idiot who's opinion I disagree with and if I saw him hassling someone for being gay, I would offer my assistance to the gay person........... Now, to answer your question, "Where do you get your statistics from?". I get them from the same place you got your "You give California a bad name" fact from. I made it up. However, many, many people think poorly of this state. This state has the highest income tax in the nation. This state is hostile towards business, hence the exodus. This state invites non citizens to come live here and leach off you and I. I could go on forever. As nice as this state is, it's pretty f'd up. I hear people complain all the time. Now, here's the key part: If you asked 1000 people who think poorly of CA why it is they think CA has a bad name, not one of them would say "because of Old School Rocker". That would make my statistic of "99.9999999%" pretty accurate. And that was my point. CA does a great job on it's own of giving CA a bad name. No one who thinks CA has a bad name would blame OSR for said bad name. Comprende?

Rik Converse
Rik Converse

As a grad from the original 4 years @ ELMO ('70) I am so proud that "Vanguards" are still found at my old school. True leaders still walk those hallways. Bravo!

Kevin J Cruz
Kevin J Cruz

Why is this even news? OC Weekly run out of tabloid articles and reduced itself to muck-raking? Terrible job OC Weekly you can never stoop too low. It's become pretty obvious you're supported by OC's Porn Industry.

MrBrightEyes
MrBrightEyes

Sweetliberty- please tell me this isn't an El Modena education at it finest......

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

While the "white redneck conservative" gets the msm attention when it comes to gay bashing


the fact is that the left is the cause of most of the harassment done to gay people


when the black churches rallied and rallied hard against gay marriage in CA


nada was really mentioned about that


IN FACT,  


after the defeat


the losing side posted names of people /companies, that supported the defeat of legalizing gay marriage


NOTICEABLY MISSING WAS THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY / CHURCHES in the leftists attack against people who defeated the prop


why is that

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

YOUR EDITORIALIZATION is not allowed to be mixed in with any other part of the story when receiving this critic:


A boy being called a girl when he 


a) has a braid


b) wants to be considered a female ( and at some level that is true)



THATS WHERE you lose support from many of us who support all good people in whatever way they choose to live


if you want to be a female ( or male) cause thats who you are, then its false to act upset when one treats you that way BUT


NOT IN THE MANNER YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED


for example:


a gay male who wants to wear or do actions that are associated with a female and is happy when those things cum his way,, has no right


/ little standing to complain if someone ( also) taunts them as


"Acting female" when its a female they are  in fact acting like

No_comment
No_comment

Not to say that it saddens me that his life has ended.

No_comment
No_comment

This article is meant to stir up hate, and twist stories to get an agenda out there. I think we were more than tolerant with Tony. Hell I sat next to him in science, as he openly look at gay porn during class and bragged about what guy he slept with. He was more than open and nasty about his orientation. You can tell ( my opinion) he loved the attention.  8th grade tony tried to get me to date him. Nobody did anything to him. To paint him as a victim of hate because of his orientation is wrong. If anything he might (and i say might ) be a victim of bulling because he was annoying. Sorry I was there when it all happened and its not like the article says.  

Erin Kelly Connolly
Erin Kelly Connolly

Anthony was a very special person to many people who love and miss him dearly.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

Thank you for sharing your story.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

Thank you for sharing your story.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

Simple facts is he did something great for this county, and for LGBT kids nationwide. And you?

justice
justice

This is unprofessional and exemplify the kind kind of journalism that is published here.

trophee2010
trophee2010

@Kevin J Cruz lol what does it make you look like you sure took the time to read it...fucking fool lmao

rustiblu
rustiblu

No one liked this comment u posted cus u sound like a tweeker.. vomiting words from the mouth. It could have been written better but guess what its there and its out! And u and everyone in oc is reading it and the ppl reading this kno ur a homohater and know ur name. Dont be suprised if ur name ends up on every telemarketing list now cus I doubt ur unlisted.

SickSnail
SickSnail

@ajphilips72 You know, instead of trying to stifle fee speech, why don't you and your family stop reading people's opinions?? Take control of the part that you can control.

rexmajestic
rexmajestic

Yeah he's gonna act female and then get upset when people try to treat him like it. does that make sense? No. Dude was out there all feminine gestures and in your face with his being gay. Prancing around making comments about who's dick he sucked last night and shit. I don't walk around walking up to gay men and acting extra macho and manly and making sure they hear me braggig loudly to the world about all the pussy ive eaten to really really make them see that I'm straight!! Cause that would be ridiculous right? Right. If your gay that's fine whatever I don't care but I don't need to hear about you sucking dick and taking up the ass...!

trophee2010
trophee2010

@sweetliberty17761776 for a moment if at all possible step out of your ignorance...or just plain stupidity and think about what you just said, now try...TRY to step into his shoes, he is living in a society where who he is WHO HE IS not understood, not accepted, not cared about and he is labeled and all but crucified for JUST BEING all he knows to be, HIMSELF. Therefore he is making decisions to try to bend to society when in all reality he can't and at some point won't hide who he is...is it really his fault...IS IT REALLY A FAULT AT ALL?? your a fool if you honestly think that it made him some sort of happy, or that he or any gay person for that matter happy to be made to feel like they are not just as good, just as important, just as capable of love and acceptance. now after reading what you just wrote i'm almost certain that you will continue on your path of misunderstanding, and ignorance but just know life has a "strange" way of coming around and biting you in the ass, just remember that, so weather your own mother father or child comes out as gay or a cross dresser, or hiv positive, etc, your ignorant words will come back to bite you...mark my words. now yes i am his cousin, and i would defend him to the death, but this time around it's not about that at all for me, it's about logic plain and simple common logic.

rustiblu
rustiblu

Ur an idiot for using the braid as an example of gender confusion.. fucktard.

rexmajestic
rexmajestic

Yup exactly No_comment. Open and nasty. Look what sleeping around and illegal drug using gets you kids... HIV. Lets learn and avoid

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

The OC Register called: They want their idiot reader back. OBLIGE THEM!

rustiblu
rustiblu

All boys looked at porn and talked about fucking. His porn made u uncomfortable is all.

rustiblu
rustiblu

As if straight guys didnt brag about fucking girls.. ur dumb. He was a guy! A guys talk about fucking. He had no filter for the straight peers. In fact he pushed the line because he had been bullied for so long.. I thought everyone learned thaf bullies were once bullied before too and thats why they do it. Thats how we learn to tolerate.

rustiblu
rustiblu

Tony was lit on fire in 7th grade and thrown down the stairs at santiago. Then forced to change in the girls bathroom at pe cus none of the guys wanted to him there. obviously u were a victim of witnessing someone degress because of insecurity and bullying. Duh dummy.. we all learned in elementary that a bully is just scared of who he is and that all bullys have been bullied and thats how they get their demeanor. Its mirrored. And for little boys who were trying to make girls uncomfortable at that age he did the same thing. Douche

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

@No_comment 


good point

I just posted something along those line


we have to laugh and feel appreciated when a gay male hits up on a straight male


and as a decent person it should be no problem


but it can also be bullying on their part to hit up on a straight person and then claim "gaydar"


which would be just as wrong if a female was bullying a gay male to "go straight"





rustiblu
rustiblu

Amber ur aunt started talking shit thinking my comments were about her cus I said tweaker. Dumb ass erased it when she realized I was talking to the dude u commented on. Check that bitch

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

The OC Register called: They want their idiot reader back. OBLIGE THEM!

MrBrightEyes
MrBrightEyes

@ajphilips I never said anything regarding Tony or attacked his personality and my statement was to SweetLiberty. I talked about how life for the other 2,000 students at El Modena was. I had interactions with Tony that weren't great where he belittled me for my clothing and even my height.... but if you would like, I can post about those? But like you said, my parents taught me manners. And yes, I have accomplished great things with my life. If you don't like what people are saying on a Public Forum then stay off.

No_comment
No_comment

Ya it did , especially when it was in class around other people. He had no respect for others. If your going to live your life like that, do it privately other than a place where I cant walk away from.


No_comment
No_comment

Twisted Logic, we have to tolerate bulling because bullies where bullied. Emotionalism is not logic. I'm sorry he was bullied gay or straight no one desires it, but he was a bully himself.

l.daniels85
l.daniels85

Only one problem with that logic. I was bullied horribly by him and others. Called nasty names, beat up, had food dumped on my head (by him) etc. but you know what? I never fought back or did any of those horrible things to anyone else. So no. Being bullied is NEVER an excuse or some sort of free pass to make someone else's life miserable.

No_comment
No_comment

@ajphilips72 @No_comment  Not attacking , simply truth. I knew him personally . I personally don't agree with the gay lifestyle , but as a person I believe I was respectful of his lifestyle, but he himself was a bully, if you didn't agree with him in any way. I don't agree with this article, making someone a hero, with out knowing the truth behind everything. I'm sorry he wasn't person that promoted love.Again I am truly sorry that someone who loved him lost him. But my argument is only on the fact of truth with this article not moral.

rustiblu
rustiblu

He liked to make ppl feel uncomfortable because he was.. it was middle school. We all were assholes

rexmajestic
rexmajestic

See that's the Toni I remember pickin on people. Always!

 
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