Thursday, September 06, 2012

Expelled Bullied Black Gay Teen Sues School District

Darnell Young, his mother Chelisa Grimes, and twin brother Darrell
We have been covering the saga of Darnell "Dynasty" Young, a Black gay teen who was expelled from his Indianapolis area high school after he took a weapon to school after being repeatedly bullied. Recently, Dynasty had his suspension suspended and was reinstated and allowed to attend school again (although not at his original school).

The latest news is that Dynasty has had a federal lawsuit filed on his behalf by the National Center for Lesbian Rights against Indianapolis Pubic Schools for failing to protect Dynasty while he attended school despite repeated pleas by his mother, Chelisa Grimes.

NCLR issued a press release about its lawsuit:
As the 2011-2012 school year progressed, the harassment worsened, and Dynasty fell into depression. He was unable to eat properly, lost a great deal of weight, and dreaded going to school. Increasingly fearful for her son’s safety, Grimes gave her son a self-protection flashlight, a small device that emits a loud noise, a light, and a weak electric charge. On April 16, 2012, six students surrounded Dynasty to attack him. He held the device in the air and activated it. The noise caused the aggressors to leave without assaulting him. But instead of locating the students who had threatened to attack Dynasty, Tech administrators suspended Dynasty for trying to prevent the attack and later expelled him.

In addition to the physical and emotional harm he experienced as a result of the bullying and the discrimination he experienced from IPS administrators who refused to take any meaningful steps to protect him, Dynasty was unable to complete the spring semester of his 11th-grade year at Tech High School, and will need to make up any necessary credits to graduate on time in 2013. He has recently enrolled in Indianapolis Metropolitan High School, a charter school not affiliated with IPS, where he is taking extra classes in an effort to try graduate on schedule.

“All students should be able to get an education without fearing for their physical safety, and they should be able to rely on school administrators to protect them when abuse does occur,” said NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Christopher F. Stoll, one of the attorneys representing Dynasty and his mother. “It is outrageous that school officials who were entrusted with their students’ safety and education blamed Dynasty for the abuse he suffered, and eventually expelled him from school, instead of accepting their responsibility to protect him from harm.”

The lawsuit asserts claims for violations of federal civil rights law and the U.S. Constitution based on IPS’s deliberate indifference to the harassment and abuse Dynasty experienced and its discriminatory treatment of him based on his gender and sexual orientation.  The suit further alleges that IPS punished Dynasty and failed to address the harassment in part due to his failure to comply with Tech officials’ demands that he change his appearance and style of dress, in violation of his rights to freedom of expression and liberty under the First Amendment and the federal Due Process Clause.  The suit also challenges IPS’s failure to consider Dynasty’s appeal of his expulsion as required by its own internal procedures and the Constitution.
“I want to make sure no other student in the Indianapolis Public Schools ever has to go through the kind of abuse that I went through,” said Dynasty. “I am hoping this will get IPS to start treating kids like me with respect and really do something to protect their students.”
We will continue to follow the details of this case at and get the word about the prevalence and impact of bullying on LGBT teens around the country.

Hat/tip to LGBT Think Progress.

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