By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com August 31 2012 5:35 PM ET
A gay student who alleges he suffered repeated harassment in an Indianapolis high school is suing the city’s public school system, saying administrators failed to protect him from abuse.
Dynasty Young, now 17, “was subjected to relentless, severe harassment and abuse by other students because he was perceived as gay and because his clothing, behavior, and demeanor did not fit stereotypical notions of masculinity” during the 2011-2012 school year at Arsenal Technical High School, says the complaint, filed today in U.S. District Court in Indiana. Young and his mother, Chelisa Grimes, also a plaintiff in the suit, are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and two law firms, Kirkland & Ellis and Waples & Hanger.
Young enrolled in Arsenal Tech at the beginning of that academic year as a junior, having relocated from Arizona, where he had enjoyed going to school and encountered few problems because of his gender nonconformity, and those few problems were dealt with swiftly. However, almost immediately upon entering the Indianapolis school, he was subjected to abuse that included being called a “fag,” told he looked “like a girl,” being spit upon, and being blocked from walking through hallways, according to the suit.
When he reported the incidents to school officials, they told him he was bringing the trouble on himself because of his appearance and that he should dress in a more typically masculine fashion, the complaint says. Then, one day last April, when he was surrounded by six students who threatened him, he set off a handheld alarm device his mother had given him for protection. He succeeded in preventing the attack, but instead of disciplining the students who threatened him, school authorities suspended Young from school and subsequently expelled him. They eventually reduced the expulsion but would allow him to return only to an alternative school, where, according to the suit, “his educational opportunities would be significantly limited.”
Young has recently enrolled in a charter high school not affiliated with the Indianapolis public schools, according to an NCLR press release. The suit seeks reversal of the expulsion order or at least a new hearing on the matter, plus unspecified damages. Read more here.