Without a lawsuit, the ACLU has won a broad list of measures to protect LGBT students in a northern California school district.
The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU-NC) has reached a settlement with the Upper Lake Union School District that contains a comprehensive series of steps the district will undertake to protect students from anti-gay harassment and discrimination. The agreement is on behalf of a student who was persistently subjected to verbal taunting and physical abuse throughout elementary and middle school based on his perceived sexual orientation. The ACLU-NC sought this settlement in light of federal and state laws that allow for school administrators to be held liable if they fail to take adequate measures to remedy anti-LGBT harassment and discrimination.
“I can’t remember a day at school when I wasn’t called a faggot or gay,” recalled the student, Robby. Since the third grade Robby has been the target of taunts, bullying and anti-gay name-calling on a regular basis.
The years of harassment finally culminated in Robby being attacked by a group of boys in the school locker room after gym class last fall. The boys knocked Robby to the ground and kicked him in the stomach, head and sides while screaming “fag” and “queer” at him. Robby received medical care for his injuries. That is when his parents contacted the ACLU to try to finally put a stop to the abuse, believing that the district was not going to independently take the appropriate steps to respond and protect Robby.
Among the steps that the school district has agreed to make are a revising of student/teacher handbooks to include anti-harassment policies, the implementation of GLSEN’s “No Name Calling Week”, the support for a Gay/Straight Alliance club, and number of measures to educate teachers and staff on how to respond to reported incidences of bullying.