Boy suspended for dubbing referee's call "gay"

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com April 05 2003 1:00 AM ET

A Grand Junction, Colo., sixth-grader whose ball was called out of bounds during a playground game of softball was suspended for saying the student referee's call was "gay." West Middle School student Ben Madison, 12, said he thought the word meant "dumb" until his mother explained it to him during his suspension. Thursday was the last day of Madison's two-day suspension.

Principal Jody Mimmack said the school follows a national curriculum called "Bullyproofing Your Schools" and that students have learned they cannot say things that might be hurtful. She said students are warned about such behaviors before they are suspended. "We have a code of student conduct concerning harassment," Mimmack said. "We work very hard to create a safe environment for students. We suspend students all the time for disciplinary issues." Mimmack said Madison, who has had previous disciplinary problems at school, also would have been suspended if he had referred to the playground call as "dumb" or if he had teased the other student about his hairstyle or ethnicity.

Madison's mother, Susan Madison, objected to the suspension, saying, "I almost feel like my son was a test case."