Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bullied Student Sues Mississippi School District

The Southern Poverty Law Center has sued the Moss Point School District in Mississippi on behalf of a junior high school student, Destin Holmes, who was bullied by students and staff because of her failure to conform to gender stereotypes. The complaint alleges that Holmes was insulted as many as 20 times a day, as students and even staff called her things like “it,” “freak” and “he-she.” One teacher denied her access to the girls' restroom, while another did not allow her to participate in a classroom activity that divided the students by gender.  Though teachers and other school officials witnessed or received reports about this abuse, they took no action to stop it.  Not even when SPCL issued a demand letter earlier this year, calling on the school district to ensure Holmes's safety and protect her civil rights.

Title IX lawsuits have forced other schools to address the climate of anti-LGBT bullying, implement stronger measures against such harassment, and even to pay damages to students who were victims of abuse (see, e.g.).  If Holmes's testimony in her case is even half as compelling as in this video from SPLC's website, a similar outcome in her case seems inevitable.