A bullied teen who was expelled for bringing a stun gun to school for protection is suing Indianapolis Public Schools, WISH-TV reports.
Darnell “Dynasty” Young, 17, says he was bullied because he is openly gay and that his mother, fearing for his safety, gave him a stun gun to ward off bullies at Arsenal Technical High School.
The incident that led to Young’s expulsion occurred on April 16, when six students allegedly surrounded him during a passing period and threatened to beat him. Young then pulled the weapon from his bag and fired it into the air. He was first expelled until January 7, 2013 for having the device, but the district reduced the penalty so Young could start the fall semester on time, according to the Indianapolis Star
WISH-TV reports that Indianapolis Public Schools initially assigned him to the New Horizons Alternative School, but Young declined this invitation to return to the district, electing instead to finish his senior year at Indianapolis Metropolitan High School, a charter school.
In a federal lawsuit filed Friday, Young and his mother, Chelsea Grimes, claim district officials did nothing to stop the “relentless, severe harassment” he was subjected to at school.
According to the Associated Press, the family’s attorneys say IPS discriminated against Young because it failed to protect him from bullies who taunted him for being gay, despite repeated complaints.
The Star reports that the suit alleges Young’s assailants used homophobic slurs and threw rocks and glass bottles at him, but administrators faulted Young, who carried his mother’s purses and wore her jewelry to school.
“Rather than take effective measures to protect him, school staff told him that he was to blame for the harassment because of his appearance and told him to change his dress and behavior to conform to stereotypical ideas of masculinity and to be less ‘flamboyant,’” the document states.
The plaintiffs also claim that IPS violated both Young’s civil rights and First Amendment right to free expression by attempting to dictate he dress differently, Indiana Public Media reports.
According to the Star, the suit also calls into question whether the district adhered to proper expulsion protocol, claiming that Young was told he would have to “dress and behave in a manner that conformed to Principal [Larry] Yarrell’s notion of appropriate masculinity” if he wanted to avoid expulsion.
IPS spokesman John Althardt says the district's attorneys would "review the information and we will respond accordingly," but declined further comment to the AP.
“The harassment and abuse I went through at Tech was horrible," Young said in a prepared statement. "I want to make sure that no other student in the Indianapolis Public Schools ever has to go through that. I hope this lawsuit will get IPS to change the way it deals with kids who are being harassed. Schools should protect students like me instead of telling them to change who they are.”