New York

Settlement announced in N.Y. school district anti-gay bias lawsuit


PHILADELPHIA, N.Y. — A northern New York school district has agreed to a series of measures to combat bullying as part of a settlement of a former student’s anti-gay bias lawsuit.

The advocacy group Lambda legal sued the Indian River Central School District in 2009 on behalf of Charles Pratt, who said he was harassed before dropping out of high school when he was 15.

The federal discrimination suit also claimed the rights of Pratt and his sister, Ashley Petranchuk, were violated when the district near Watertown refused their requests to form a gay-straight alliance.

The District and the other defendants denied those allegations, contending that they had responded appropriately to incidents of harassment of which they were aware, and that they had not denied requests to form a gay-straight alliance.

Under the settlement announced Thursday by both sides, the district will hire a consultant for developing anti-harassment training and policies and take other steps to keep track and combat bullying.

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“This is a great day for Charlie and Ashley who can put this behind them knowing that they helped ensure a positive school environment for other LGBT and ally students,” said Thomas W. Ude, Jr., Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney.

“The consultant, training, and other measures that the Indian River Central School District has agreed to take will help safeguard students against harassment for being gay, or for not conforming to stereotypes about masculinity or femininity,” he said.

Asked if the settlement includes monetary damages or costs, a Lambda spokesman said the deal is confidential.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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