The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced a new lawsuit today over anti-LGBT mistreatment at school: The organization is suing Mississippi’s Moss Point School District, the district’s school board, and two district administrators on behalf of a student, Destin Holmes, “who endured such severe harassment she was eventually driven out of school.”
SPLC’s press release explains:
The SPLC demanded in March that the district take immediate action to end the bullying and harassment. The demand came after an investigation found that district students, faculty and administrators have targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and nonconformity to gender stereotypes. A mutually agreeable resolution that would protect and preserve the rights of students like Destin was not reached.
. . . .
During her time at Magnolia Junior High School, students and district staff called Destin slurs such as “it,” “freak” and “he-she.” Destin heard such insults as many as 20 times a day. She also was denied access to the girls’ restroom by a teacher. Another teacher even refused to allow her to participate in a classroom activity where teams were divided by gender because Destin – according to the teacher – was an “in-between it.”
The lawsuit alleges violations of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, as well as Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. As other posts (including one of my very first posts on this blog) have explained, Title IX bans sex discrimination, including discrimination based on gender stereotypes, in federally funded schools. Since LGBT youth frequently face discrimination and harassment based on perceived non-conformity to gender stereotypes, Title IX provides them with important protections.
You can watch Destin Holmes explain her ordeal in her own words in this March 2013 video posted on YouTube by the SPLC:
[February 2015 Update: The case has settled.]
- The SPLC’s complaint in the new case.
- The SPLC’s press release about the case.
- A related Youth Allies post from March, 21, 2013: SPLC: Mississippi Student Faced Severe Anti-LGBT Harassment at School.
- A related Youth Allies post from March 22, 2013: Moss Point Responds to Allegations of Anti-LGBT Discrimination, Revealing Gaps in its Policies.
- The Youth Allies Resource Library includes a page dedicated to Bullying & Harassment issues. For information on other lawsuits involving school districts, check out the section on that Bullying & Harassment page called Discrimination: It’s Expensive! (Summaries of Court Cases, Verdicts & Legal Settlements Involving Bullied & Harassed Youth).