By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com June 21 2003 12:00 AM ET
The mother of a New York City middle-school student who wore a "Barbie Is a Lesbian" T-shirt to class sued the city on Thursday, saying her daughter was humiliated and harassed by schoolmates and staff because she is a lesbian and is open about her sexual orientation. Kathleen Hodges accused the city of failing to protect her daughter, Natalie Young, 14, at Middle School 210 in the Ozone Park section of Queens, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a court order barring the school from suspending Young for wearing the T-shirt and forcing the school to establish policies to protect gay students. City lawyers had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment, said Kate O'Brien Ahlers, a spokeswoman for the city law office.
According to the lawsuit, Natalie was 13 years old when a teacher laughed at her and called her T-shirt inappropriate in front of other pupils, before summoning a vice principal, who made her change shirts. The lawsuit alleged that the incident was one of a series in which she was discriminated against by school staff and schoolmates. The teenager said Thursday that everybody should be treated equally. "I think that I was treated differently because of my sexual orientation," Young said at a news conference.