A graduate of Kansas' Blue Valley School District has filed a lawsuit alleging that school officials failed to protect him from peer tormenting stemming from a belief that he was gay.
The graduate claims he was subjected to "severe and repeated physical and emotional assault and harassment based on his gender and perceived sexual orientation," according to the complaint.
In a statement to KCTV, district officials said policies prevent them from commenting on pending litigation, though "the safety and social well being of our students is a top priority in every school and every classroom, every day."
The lawsuit claims that school officials protected girls who were bullied, but didn't defend the plaintiff because he was male and perceived to be gay. The complaint claims that male students kicked him, punched him in the face, placed his hand on a hot burner in cooking class and threw balls at his face during gym class, resulting in a deviated septum.
"Fellow male students repeatedly assaulted [him] in the school locker room and shower, such as rubbing against him, nude, in the shower in a sexually aggressive manner, pulling down his pants, exposing his genitals to other students, snapping him on the buttocks with towels, and spraying a full shampoo bottle of urine on him while in the locker room shower," the complaint reads.
The suit also alleges that students made references to raping and killing the bullied teen, and made sexually offensive comments to him, including graphic descriptions of their masturbation activities and asking about sex acts he would perform on the weekend. His grades were reportedly negatively affected by the bullying, and is currently receiving counseling to overcome physical pain and post-traumatic stress.
"His reports were met with indifference, inaction, or where some action was taken, the action was wholly inadequate and ineffective," according to the complaint.
The story out of Kansas is one in a number of alleged peer bullying cases for perceived sexual orientation.
Last fall, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer of New York made headlines after he hanged himself following years of bullying for being gay and hanging out with girls.
The teen's suicide followed a poignant "It Gets Better" video in which he told his story and encouraged other bullied gay and lesbian teenagers.
In a separate incident in Pennsylvania, Harrisburg teacher Sharon Wright has filed a lawsuit against Covenant Christian Academy. In her suit, she claims that the administration suspended her son for being gay and fired her for not forcing him to renounce the "sin."
"Your son is broken," school board member Rich Raynor reportedly told Wright. "And it's your job to fix him."
Subsequent harassment through the year led to anxiety and depression. According to the complaint, school officials told Wright to take a year "to heal" and was denied a contract renewal.
Most states now have bullying laws that require schools to adopt bullying policies, and efforts to combat school bullying have escalated over the last decade, according to a report released in December by the U.S. Department of Education.
Between 1999 and 2010, more than 120 bills were adopted by state legislatures to introduce or amend legislation that address bullying, harassment or similar behavior in schools. By the time of the Education Department study's conclusion, there were 46 states with enacted anti-bullying laws, 36 with regulations that work against cyberbullying and 13 that give schools the authority to monitor and address bullying behavior even when it occurs off school grounds.