Teen suing school for discriminating against him for being gayOnline Only, Top Highlights Monday, September 3rd, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Indianapolis Public Schools’ (IPS) discriminatory treatment and failure to protect an openly gay former student who faced severe and relentless harassment at Arsenal Technical High School (Tech) throughout the 2011-2012 school year. Rather than address the constant harassment and abuse suffered by 17-year-old Dynasty Young, school administrators blamed the harassment on Young’s gender nonconforming clothes and “flamboyant” behavior. Ultimately, IPS expelled Dynasty instead of taking effective measures to protect him from the harassment.
Before moving to Indianapolis in 2011, Dynasty was a happy, outgoing student who loved school and never had any major problems. But immediately after beginning classes at Tech High School, he encountered constant abuse from students who harassed and threatened him because of his gender nonconformity and perceived sexual orientation. Students called Dynasty a “fag,” spat at him, and threw rocks and glass bottles at him.
Dynasty and his mother, Chelisa Grimes, repeatedly reported the harassment to Tech administrators, but the school administrators took no effective measures to protect him, and the abuse continued. Administrators, including Tech Principal Larry Yarrell, responded to the requests for help by blaming Dynasty for being gender non-conforming. In May 2012, Yarrell told the Indianapolis Star, “If you wear female apparel, then kids are kids and they’re going to say whatever it is that they want to say.”
As the 2011-2012 school year progressed, the harassment worsened, and fearful for her son’s safety, Grimes gave her son a self-protection flashlight, a small device that emits a loud noise, a light, and a weak electric charge. April 16, six students surrounded Dynasty to attack him. He held the device in the air and activated it. The noise caused the aggressors to leave without assaulting him. But instead of locating the students who had threatened to attack Dynasty, Tech administrators suspended Dynasty for trying to prevent the attack and later expelled him.
Christopher F. Stoll, an attorney with the NCLR, and who is working on the case said,
“All students should be able to get an education without fearing for their physical safety, and they should be able to rely on school administrators to protect them when abuse does occur. It is outrageous that school officials who were entrusted with their students’ safety and education blamed Dynasty for the abuse he suffered, and eventually expelled him from school, instead of accepting their responsibility to protect him from harm.”
The documents filed included alleged details of a violation of Young’s First Amendment right to freedom of expression, by trying to change the way he dressed. It also said that IPS had broken the victim’s civil rights by discriminating against him for being gay.
“I want to make sure no other student in the Indianapolis Public Schools ever has to go through the kind of abuse that I went through,” said Dynasty. “I am hoping this will get IPS to start treating kids like me with respect and really do something to protect their students.”
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