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No student should be afraid to go to school. Yet harassment and bullying against gay students is still prevalent in schools throughout the United States. There is no place for bullying in schools, and schools should take responsibility for preventing any form of harassment against their students.
Let’s head to Upstate New York. While school administrators turned a blind eye, Jacob, a gay teenager, experienced bullying by peers. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a lawsuit against the Mohawk Central School District last summer on behalf of Jacob. Jacob was bullied, threatened, and physically assaulted due to his effeminate behavior. Federal prosecutors argued that the Title IX statute, which prohibits discrimination based on gender, also covers discrimination based on gender expression. The school district denied any wrongdoing but reached an agreement with Jacob.
The settlement agreement includes paying Jacob’s family $50,000 as well as implementing changes to prevent further harassment. Due to the settlement, the Mohawk Central School District will train staff to prevent harassment, review its harassment policies, and report its progress to the NYCLU and the Department of Justice. Meanwhile, Jacob has transferred to a high school in another district, where he is much happier.