Dozens gathered Thursday night to support a University of San Diego student who may have been the victim of a hate crime after revealing their gender identity on social media last week.
Eleanor Wheeler, 19, came out as non-binary to their friends on Instagram. A day later, Wheeler's dorm room door and LGBTQ flags were covered in homophobic and transphobic language, Wheeler told NBC 7.
The freshman thinks they were targeted because of their non-binary identity, a term to describe a person who doesn't identify with a single gender.
"What if I had killed myself like they told me to?" Wheeler told NBC 7. "Some people might have, and some people have, and some people will and that's not OK."
The San Diego Police Department is investigating the incident, according to a spokesperson.
Wheeler told NBC 7 they decided to share their story to give others strength and, on Thursday, dozens of students paused from Halloween parties to support Wheeler and reinforce their support for the school's LGBTQ+ population.
"I couldn't understand, I didn't see how someone could just look at another person and just hate them without knowing them," a student at the vigil said.
Wheeler was touched by the support and messages of love.
"I still feel like USD is where I'm meant to be and even more now because things need to change here and I'm going to change them," Wheeler said.
USD President James Harris sent a released a letter to the student body, in part, reading:
"This deplorable act targeted a member of our LGBTQ+ community and is antithetical to our belief in the respect and dignity of every individual on our campus."
USD is investigating the act as a hate crime.