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

Sunday, September 2, 2012
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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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