The parents of an 11-year-old student in Rancho Rio, NM, are planning a civil rights lawsuit against their daughter’s school for failing to provide her treatment following a playground accident because, they say, she has “two moms.”
On February 26, Jenna Bissell says she sat in her fifth-grade class at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School for hours with a gash on her face, dried blood between her loosened permanent teeth, cut lips and a swollen nose after she tripped on the playground.
According to Jenna, her teacher never asked about her injuries or sent her to the nurse, and instead was just told to “go clean yourself off you are gross” by her teacher.
Shannon Peterson, one of Jenna’s mothers, said she called the school after Jenna was picked up at the end of the school day by her grandmother, and had dried blood on her face.
Peterson said she talked to Jenna’s teacher, asking why she hadn’t been notified and why the girl went without treatment. Peterson said she asked, “Is this because she has two moms?” and that the teacher replied with a raised voice that yes, this was the reason and that Peterson should take her children to another school.
According to a report in the Albuquerque Journal:
Peterson said there was a pattern of tension between Bissell and her teacher, including over an assignment in which students were asked to write a book about themselves.
On one page, they were asked to write about something they did over the summer, and Bissell said she wrote about her parents’ wedding in Iowa, where gay marriage is legal.
“She threw out the whole page about where my moms got married and how beautiful it was,” Bissell said, referring to the teacher. “She said, ‘This is gross, this is horrible, you need to write about something else.'”
Officials at Rio Rancho Public Schools would not comment on specifics of the case, but said discriminating against a student because of the makeup of her family would violate district policy.
District spokeswoman Kim Vesely said “there are differing versions of what occurred,” but declined to give the district’s version. The school district also declined to assist the family with Jenna’s medical expenses.
The family has since moved Jenna to another school, and is planning to file suit for negligence and for violating their daughter’s civil rights.
A Facebook support group for Jenna has also been created.