Proudly out teen banned from school bus for saying ‘I’m a lesbian’
Disciplinary action has been brought against two school employees after they punished a student and banned her from the school bus for saying “I’m a lesbian”.
Izzy Dieker, a 13-year old student in Kansas, was told to move to the front of the school bus and was subsequently banned from it by the two employees.
Dieker told KSNT News: “At home, my dad told me that he got a call from the school that I was kicked off for saying that I was a lesbian.”
“I am openly a lesbian,” she added. “My whole class knows it.”
The bus driver, Kristi Galdino, reported her to the school principal, Corey Wiltz, for “inappropriate language” and for refusing to comply with him telling her to move.
Galdino misreported the incident, claiming Dieker had said “I’m a f**king lesbian” and refused to move when asked.
An investigation by the Kansas Association of School Boards reported that video evidence showed Dieker did comply with the bus driver and she did not swear. However, many other students on the bus were using “shockingly profane” language, and went unpunished.
Principal Wiltz, despite not watching the video, sided with Galdino and approved Dieker’s ban from the bus.
The investigation found that Gadino and Wiltz violated both school policy and Dieker’s Title IX rights.
Angela Stallbaumer, an attorney for the Kansas Association of School Boards, wrote: “To allow a steady stream of profane language to be loudly aired on the bus without any response and then to take such drastic actions to stop the bus and admonish Izzy for her statement regarding her sexual orientation in front of her peers, shows both a lack of knowledge of the protections afforded to students under Title IX and a strikingly inconsistent and ineffective disciplinary strategy.”
She added: “At a deeper level, though, the actions of the Respondents reflected that they fundamentally disapproved of her sexual-orientation and, quite possibly, her as well.”
Dieker’s mother, Tasha Cooper, reported that she initially struggled to get through to the school administration.
“She’s 13-years old,” Cooper told KSNT reporters. “And these are adults, acting like this towards her. We’ve had talks about other students calling her names and, you know, I expect that because they’re just repeating what their parents say. But for the staff, the people that I trust her with, I was just angry.”
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Dieker’s father, Daniel, said it took the family going to the media for the school to even respond to the incident.
“I think that the bus driver and Mr Wiltz are both going to get a slap on the writst and [it will] be swept under the rug again, just like everything else,” he said.
Daniel Dieker added: “It kinda made me upset to think that people go through this like every day. And also that kids are growing up thinking that it’s a horrible thing and that they shouldn’t be talking about it at all, when honestly it should be the other way around.”
Izzy Dieker now rides a bus with a different driver. Her father intends to pull her and her sister out of the school next year, having lost faith in the district.
US schools have faced criticism in recent years for failing to support LGBT+ students. Last year, a gay teenager was suspended from his school in Texas for wearing nail polish. Another in Indiana banned Pride flags to “maintain viewpoint neutrality”.
In the UK, a recent study by Diversity Role Models found that almost half of LGBT+ students don’t feel safe in school.