A gay teenager in Indianapolis who was expelled for bringing a stun-gun to school to scare off bullies, is suing the public school system for failing to protect him from bullying.
The lawsuit was filed by Darnell Young, 17, and his mother Chelisa Grimes, on Friday in Indianapolis, and seeks unspecified damages over several incidents of bullying which led Young to fire the stun-gun in school, leading to his expulsion from Tech High School.
Attorneys acting on behalf of the family said that Indianapolis Public Schools had not protected Young from homophobic bullying, and that they had discriminated against him for his sexuality.
Christopher F. Stoll, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and who is working on the case said:
“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,” Indystar reported.
The claim against IPS alleges that Young, who carried his mother’s purses, and wore her jewellery to school, was subject to homophobic taunts, had glass bottles and rocks thrown at him, and was spat at by bullies. The lawsuit stated:
“Rather than take effective measures to protect him, school staff told him that he was to blame for the harassment because of his appearance and told him to change his dress and behavior to conform to stereotypical ideas of masculinity and to be less ‘flamboyant,’”
The documents filed included alleged details of a violation of Young’s First Amendment right to freedom of expression, by trying to change the way he dressed. It also said that IPS had broken the victim’s civil rights, as well as the US constitution, by discriminating against him for being gay.
As well as the district and the School Board, the named defendants were: IPS Superintendent Eugene White, Tech Principal Larry Yarrell and Assistant Principal Debra Barlowe.