Bully Teacher to Publicly Apologize
BY Neal Broverman
March 17 2011 3:45 PM ET
A shop teacher who mocked Florida gay student Luke Herbert (pictured) will publicly apologize as part of a settlement between the Flagler County School District and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
The Palm Coast, Fla., freshman was told he couldn’t keep his soda in the same refrigerator as other students or they’d turn out gay. Herbert, 15, said he and his mother complained to school officials several times about the teacher, but no one took the complaints seriously. He also asked to be moved to another class, which he says didn't happen in a timely manner.
"I reported the bullying to the administration, but it never seemed to change anything," Herbert said in a press release. "I felt alone, and it made me stop wanting to go to school. My breaking point came when one of my teachers started telling antigay jokes and mocking me in front of the entire class."
Herbert was also bullied by students at his school; a physical altercation took place between him and a homophobic student. Herbert began missing classes because of the bullying, and he was in danger of flunking out of school.
As part of the settlement, the school district offered Herbert several options to complete his education in an environment where he feels safe, including attending "virtual school." The shop teacher has been officially reprimanded and has agreed to make an official apology. The school district is also recommending to the school board that specific protections for sexual orientation and gender identity or expression be added to the student code of conduct and the school district's bullying and harassment policy. Lastly, the district is working with the Flagler Palm Coast Gay-Straight Alliance to create a series of public service announcements addressing bullying and harassment.
"What happened to Luke is inexcusable but unfortunately is an all-too-common occurrence for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students," said ACLU of Florida LGBT Advocacy Project attorney Shelbi Day in a release. "Schools have an obligation to ensure that teachers and students understand that bullying and harassment of any student is prohibited and to act swiftly and appropriately to address it when it occurs."
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