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Bullied gay teen faces expulsion after firing stun gun provided by his mom

Wednesday, May 2, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — An Indiana gay teen on Wednesday faced a private school district review board, an effort to expel him after he discharged a stun gun on school property to discourage an attack by school bullies.

Darnell Young

Darnell “Dynasty” Young, 17, a student at Arsenal Tech High School in Indianapolis, said that classmates repeatedly cursed at him in the school hallways, taunted him with homophobic slurs, following him home from his bus stop, and threatening to beat him up, reported the Indianapolis Star.

One night, as he walked home from his after-school job, they threw rocks at him.

When the 17-year-old and his mother, Chelisa Grimes, told school officials, she said, teachers and administrators seemed to blame Young for being openly gay.

His behavior and the way he dressed called attention to himself, they said.

He accessorized his outfits with his mother’s purses and jewelry. And he loved to dance.

His dance routine to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” won second place at Tech’s talent show in December.

“They said that the problem was he was too flamboyant, with his bags and his purses and his rings,” Grimes said.

Desperate to protect her son from bullies, Grimes gave him a stun gun to carry, just in case.

“I had to do something,” she said. “They throw bottles and rocks at him.”

Now Young faces expulsion from school.

Young said he carried the stun gun in his backpack for a few weeks without using it. But on April 16, as he walked between class buildings during a passing period, Young said six students surrounded him, called him names, cursed and threatened to beat him up.

He said he pulled out the stun gun, pointed it in the air and fired it so it would make the noise, causing the students to retreat.

But minutes later, school police officers caught up with Young at his next class, handcuffed him, and found the stun gun — Young was suspended and recommended for expulsion.

The school and Young were scheduled to testify today before an independent arbitrator, who will review the case and make a decision within a few days on whether Young will be expelled.

Today’s meeting today was closed to the public.

According to Young and his mother, the had previously filed at least 10 formal complaints about the bullying incidents, but school officials formally investigated only one complaint, which resulted in the bully being suspended.

Grimes said that in most cases, principal Larry Yarrell told her that her son should “tone down” his appearance.

“If they weren’t going to protect him,” Grimes said, “I’ll protect him.”

Grimes said she settled on the stun gun because it did not seem as dangerous or illegal as a knife or gun, and are not classified as deadly weapons under Indiana state law, however they are prohibited on school property.

Under Indiana law, a person must be at least 18 to possess a stun gun, and it is a misdemeanor to give a stun gun to a minor. Grimes claims she didn’t know that when she bought the stun gun.

Young’s mother told the Star that she knew her son was gay starting at an early age, and said she has always been supportive of his sexual orientation.

“Everybody in my family knew he was (gay), so we just loved him,” she said, adding that if Young is expelled, she will appeal the decision.

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