BY Michelle Garcia
August 27 2009 12:45 AM ET
A school district in Herkimer County, N.Y. has agreed to take immediate action to protect a gay student before the academic year begins in September.
The agreement is only a step in resolving a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of a 14-year-old student who was constantly harassed by students at his high school for his sexual orientation. A federal judge approved of the New York Civil Liberties Union's suggestions for the school district, the specifics of which cannot be disclosed.
Jacob, a student at the Gregory B. Jarvis Junior/Senior High School in central New York, had been subjected to constant verbal abuse, and was regularly pushed or the target of thrown objects. Some of his personal property had also been vandalized, according to the statement by the legal organization. Jacob had sprained his ankle earlier this year after a student pushed him down a flight of stairs. Another student brought a knife to school, threatening to kill Jacob.
Though district officials like the superintendent and school principal were notified of the incidents, there was no discipline for the harassment.
The NYCLU filed the case in August.
"It shouldn’t take a lawsuit to motivate school district officials to protect a student from vicious harassment," said NYCLU staff attorney Corey Stoughton, lead counsel on the case. "Our case will proceed until the district addresses the systemic failures that allowed it to ignore Jacob’s plight for two years."
NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman added that the district must take steps to "ensure that all students are safe at school and treated with the dignity and respect they deserve."
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