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Lesbian teen suing Texas school, coaches for harassment, ‘outing’ her

Lesbian teen suing Texas school, coaches for harassment, ‘outing’ her

KILGORE, Texas — Three Kilgore High School coaches and the Kilgore Independent School District are being sued for outing a lesbian student to her parents.

The lawsuit, filed by the Texas Civil Rights Project on behalf of Barbara Wyatt, and her daughter, Skye, allege the coaches and school compromise students’ privacy and subject them to “unnecessary risk of harassment and trauma by disclosing their sexual orientation without consent.”

Rhonda Fletcher, the Assistant Softball Coach, Cassandra Newell, the Head Softball Coach, Douglas Duke, the Assistant Athletic Director, and the Kilgore school district are named as defendants.

Skye, now 18 years old, claims she was interrogated by the coaches about her sexuality when she was a sophomore in March, 2009.

According to the lawsuit, Skye was led into an empty locker room by Fletcher and Newell; they locked the door behind them, and then “interrogated” her, demanding to know if Skye was gay and if she had been having a relationship with another girl.

The coaches then called Skye’s mother, the suit alleges, and told her that her daughter was a lesbian and offered to give her the other girl’s phone number.

Wyatt said she was more upset at the way the situation was handled, and that “if things had gotten out of hand, there was no one there for her (Skye).”

Skye has since been removed from the softball team, and was said to have suffered “severe mental and emotional anguish,” “social isolation” and had been “robbed her of the freedom to deal with her sexuality privately, at her own pace and on her own terms.”

According to the suit, Wyatt filed complaints with the high school principal, the superintendent and the district’s Board of Trustees, but nothing was done. She said she was told by the school that it was “legally obligated to share this information with the parent.”

“We feel confident we handled it the right way,” said Superintendent Jody Clements. “But that’s why there is a legal system. We’ll proceed and let the courts decide what was right.”

The lawsuit claims the school and the coaches have “no legitimate state interest in the disclosure of students’ sexual orientation to parents. Doing so is a severe and traumatic violation of students’ privacy.”

A copy of the suit is here (PDF).

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