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Gay teen files lawsuit against school for failing to protect him from bullies

Sunday, September 2, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — An openly gay Indiana teen, who was expelled from school earlier this year because he brought a stun gun to school to ward off bullies, has filed a lawsuit claiming the school district did nothing to prevent the “relentless, severe harassment.”

Darnell “Dynasty” Young, 17, and his mother, Chelisa Grimes, are suing Indianapolis Public Schools, seeking unspecified damages over a series of alleged bullying incidents at Arsenal Tech High School in Indianapolis that led Young to fire the stun gun at bullies, reported the Indianapolis Star.

Darnell Young

According to Young, he carried the stun gun — given to him by his mother — in his backpack for weeks without using it, but on April 16, as he walked between class, he 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.

On May 7, Young was informed that an arbitrator who presided over an expulsion hearing decided to expel him until January 7, 2013. The district later reduced the penalty so Young could start the fall semester, but said he would have to go to an alternative school.

In the lawsuit, the family’s attorney said the school district discriminated against Young because, despite repeated complaints, IPS didn’t protect him from bullies who taunted him for being gay,

The lawsuit alleges that bullies used homophobic slurs, spat at Young and threw rocks and glass bottles at him, but that school administrators blamed Young, who carried his mother’s purses and wore her jewelry to school.

“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 suit says.

“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 Christopher F. Stoll, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights who is working on the case, in a prepared statement.

The school district, the School Board, Superintendent Eugene White, Tech Principal Larry Yarrell and Assistant Principal Debra Barlowe are named as defendants.

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25 more reader comments:

  1. He should have defended himself but I am sorry he should not have had a stun gun at school. I don’t believe in anyone possessing a weapon of any sort in a school. So I agree that he should have been punished. I am sorry but this is what I think! Yet I also think the school should have protected him from this non-sense!

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 4:53pm
  2. agreed although when the school or school system doesnt react then kids have to find a way themselves but guns of any type should not be present

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 4:55pm
  3. He should not have to defend himself any more than a woman should have to be able to fight off a sexual advances at school. Schools need to punish bullying and harassment very strongly.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 4:55pm
  4. I don’t blame him for bringing it to school with him. It could have been worse. He could have decided to be like one these school shooters and shot up the place instead but no. It was a stun gun to protect himself. I think he should have been protected a lot better and this wouldn’t have happened.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 4:56pm
  5. Good for him. :)

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 4:57pm
  6. I think the lawsuit is perfectly viable and warranted. THat being said, so was the suspension. Bringing weapons on campus is not something to mess around with. While the school definitely needs to take a lot of the blame, the student hopefully realizes that bringing a weapon onto school grounds and not expecting to get expelled is wrong.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 4:58pm
  7. @Jeremy, I see your point, however no one was hurt and this seemed like an extreme effort of defense. If the school had done something about all the reported incidents and taken action against those other students, this wouldn’t have happened.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 4:58pm
  8. With all the bullying, you have to take up for yourself.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:00pm
  9. non fatal protection, that’s the point of them.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:01pm
  10. Good for him… I think that is great he is doing it.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:04pm
  11. Regarding the stun gun, he held it up in the air and used it to make noise. Yes, having it was bad but he didn’t come near using it on anyone. Desperate times. Desperate measures.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:07pm
  12. Rather have a stun-gun then a REAL gun! Schools should protect their students its their duty isnt it! If no one is gonna stand up and defend the students their gonna have to do it themselves! Like I said least it wasnt the REAL thing, he was smarter then that! Use something to defend you’re-self that WONT KILL someone!

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:13pm
  13. If the school system did their jobs this incident wouldnt have happened and he wouldnt had brought the stun gun with him. School’s policies needs to change and more anti-bullying laws needs to be implemented all students has a right to get an education without worrying about their safety. I dont condone the use of weapons but he fired in the air and it is designed for non fatal protection and sometimes you need to do everything possible to make sure your life is safe.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:14pm
  14. Yes if the school would have done what they were suppose to do, it wouldst have happened….the bully and school are to blame period….the brave boy shouldn’t have to protect his self like that…again if the school would have stepped up and did what was needed to be done then the boy wouldn’t have needed the stun gun

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:26pm
  15. And what if those 6 kids had confronted and assaulted the bullied student after school when no one was around to help him or save him? LGBT kids are beaten and murdered regularly in this country. If THAT had happened, you can bet your *ss the school would be wringing their hands in sorrow, pretending they had no knowledge of this pattern of bullying–cause that’s what they do. He was smart to have a stun gun on him for safety purposes–for before and after school. He just should’ve made arrangements to place it in a lock box during school hours, in the main office. A person has a right to protect themselves. Maybe that measure–needing a weapon to protect himself from bullies, would’ve caused the administration of the school to do something…. anything… I think a suspension was in order: for the bullies, not the victim. I hope the parents sue them for every penny they have. No amount of money can repay the cost of a dead child. Think it can’t happen? Google Matthew Shepard.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:45pm
  16. I agree he’s in the right to have a stun gun, especially with all the warnings to the administration. I used to carry a knife to school. I only took it out once. Believe me, nothing bad happened to me then! this was the 90′s and kids were already packing heat in their backpacks. Although no one got shot at school. It was always a drive by they feared….. And Caden’s right. If it was off school grounds the school would play “we had no idea” blah blah blah. I’m not blaming teachers here, I’m blaming bad policies, hallmasters, principals and other staff. Teachers have a lot on their hands. If I was this boy I would have totally done the same thing.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:53pm
  17. Schools think they are not responsible and they are so wrong!

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:54pm
  18. our children must be safe especially in school!

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 5:57pm
  19. keep change alive and growing in america…re elect obama…our fight has just begun. =]

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 6:13pm
  20. I totally don’t agree with the stun gun carrying, but rock on anyway. Fight fight fight!

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 6:26pm
  21. If the school was doing their job protecting ALL students, he would not have had to protect himself. If the students do not have to wear uniforms then he has the right to wear WHATEVER he wants, and should be protected.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 7:05pm
  22. I used to be in favor of kids being able to wear what they choose to school to reflect who they are. However, due to teenagers being especially cruel to those who are different, I think all schools should require uniforms. Slacks, polo shirts, and professional shoes for everyone. It takes all distractions from what they’re their for… learning.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 8:37pm
  23. there* sorry

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 8:37pm
  24. He should sue the crap outta them:) bigots.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 8:38pm
  25. This is pathetic in so many ways. What a farce.

    Posted on Monday, September 3, 2012 at 1:22am