Saturday, February 06, 2010

Gay NY Teen's Harassment Suit Gets Federal Notice

This from ABC News:

Gay teenager's harassment lawsuit against NY
school draws interest of Justice Department

The bullying by classmates and taunts of "homo" only got worse after Jacob began dyeing his hair and wearing eyeliner in eighth grade. One student scrawled "I hope you die" on his shoe, he said; another drew a pocket knife on him.

Jacob's grades dropped, and he missed school from fear. His father tried repeatedly to get school officials in their working-class village in upstate New York to help protect his son from harassment. The response by the Mohawk Central School District, according to a federal lawsuit, was to do "virtually nothing."

"Everything was bad," Jacob — who is identified as "J.L." in the lawsuit and didn't want to draw attention to his new school by having his last name used in this story — said this week. "I hyperventilated when I left the school ... and I didn't want to come back the next day, or ever."

The 15-year-old might soon get a measure of satisfaction. The lawsuit filed by Jacob and his father against the school district with the New York Civil Liberties Union could be close to settlement, according to both sides.

The negotiations come as the U.S. Department of Justice seeks to intervene in the case, citing the "important issues" it raises in enforcing federal civil rights

"There is a growing recognition across the country that schools need to take harassment based on gender expression and homosexuality seriously," said NYCLU attorney Corey Stoughton. "If there is a settlement in this case, that's an affirmation
of that principle."

Justice officials say it's the first time since 2000 that they have argued that Title IX, the antidiscrimination law affecting schools that receive federal funding, covers sex discrimination based on gender stereotypes — such as when a boy does not act or look stereotypically male...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That the words "homo" and "faggot" are also commonplace in the Kentucky schools, is well-known.

Schools need to address the fact that students who are gay, or those who are merely perceived as "gay" are harassed and that harassment can be brutal.

The general rule is this:

The more feminine the gay student is, the more masculine the lesbian is, the deeper the harassment. That harassment led, partly, to the death of the boy named Josh in the film Straightlaced. Josh was a student at Dunbar High School in a supposedly child-centered district whose mantra is "It's about Kids."

One truism of the public schools is this: they are nor proactive. Instead, they react. In short, the school culture will not change in Kentucky until someone says publicly "Calling people names like dyke or faggot is wrong. This is sexual harassment. We won't tolerate that. Our school district has thus added sexual orientation to the non-discrimination clause."

In part, because of the various family groups represented by Latin teacher Martin Cothran, many school districts hesitate to act. Sadly, though, that inaction will harm gay students and lead to possible litigation.