Indianapolis Public Schools has been named in a federal lawsuit filed Friday on behalf of Darnell "Dynasty" Young, the openly gay 17-year-old student who was relentlessly bullied and expelled after he brought a stun gun to school for protection. The lawsuit filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Kirkland & Ellis alleges IPS engaged in "discriminatory treatment and fail[ed] to protect" the bullied teen.
"Rather than address the constant harassment and abuse suffered by 17-year-old Dynasty Young," said NCLR's press release. "School administrators blamed the harassment on Young’s gender nonconforming clothes and 'flamboyant” behavior.'"
In addition to the physical and emotional harm he experienced as a result of the bullying and the discrimination, Dynasty was unable to complete the spring semester of his 11th-grade year at [Arsenal] Technical High School, and will need to make up any necessary credits to graduate on time in 2013. He has recently enrolled in Indianapolis Metropolitan High School, a charter school not affiliated with IPS, where he is taking extra classes in an effort to try graduate on schedule.
NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Christopher F. Stoll said, "It is outrageous that school officials who were entrusted with their students’ safety and education blamed Dynasty for the abuse he suffered, and eventually expelled him from school, instead of accepting their responsibility to protect him from harm."
"I want to make sure no other student in the Indianapolis Public Schools ever has to go through the kind of abuse that I went through," said Young. "I am hoping this will get IPS to start treating kids like me with respect and really do something to protect their students."
Young says classmates at Arsenal Technical HS relentlessly bullied him ever since he and his twin brother arrived in October from Arizona—taunting him, calling him names, following him home and even throwing rocks at him. On 16 April, Young eventually fired a stun gun into the air to scare off a group of six kids who used gay slurs and threatened to attack him. Young was suspended and remained out of school until his expulsion on 8 May.
Young and his mother said they told the school about the bullying "more than 10 times"—but the school only formally investigated one complaint. The stun gun was given to him by his mother, who says school authorities were not helpful and told Darnell to "tone down" his accessories and mannerisms. Young's mother is also a party to the lawuit.
IPS agreed to end Young's expulsion in early August—with a caveat. The school disrict would not allow him to remain at Tech and he would have to enroll at an alternative school, NCLR's Chris Stoll told the Indianapolis Star.
In other news: Young was attacked at a local mall and struck in the face by a man twice his age in May. The attacker reportedly recognized Young from news coverage, pushed and struck him and used homophobic slurs. The 34-year-old man was charged with misdemeanor battery.