Thursday, June 26, 2008

Settlement Will Force School District to Deal With Anti-Gay Bullies

The ACLU of Northern California announced today that it has reached a settlement with the Upper Lake Union School District, under which the district has agreed to undertake a list of protective measures designed to curb anti-gay harassment and discrimination.

ACLU's client is a middle school student named Robby who "can't remember a day at school when [he] wasn't called a faggot or gay." When Robby was beat up after gym class by classmates shouting "queer," Robby's parents got the ACLU involved. It does not appear that ACLU had to actually file a lawsuit to get the school district to agree to take remedial measures. This step was presumably not necessary because thanks to Title IX and California's anti-bully legislation, the district has a legal responsibility (not to mention a moral one) to take reasonable steps to protect students from anti-gay harassment.

Here is the list of things that the district agreed to do:
  • Revise the parent/student handbooks to include the antidiscrimination and antiharassment policies and the process for filing a complaint;
  • Designate an employee for each school to serve as the point person for school-based harassment;
  • Provide LGBT sensitivity materials to staff and discuss incidents of harassment at staff meetings;
  • Hire qualified trainers to educate students regarding the harmful effects of discrimination;
  • Implement the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network's "No Name Calling Week" curriculum and other programs that raise awareness about discrimination and homophobia; and
  • Support the maintenance of a Gay/Straight Alliance club at the middle school.
If you're an activist, feel free to copy and paste these handy bullet points into your own list of demands!