INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – An openly gay student who was expelled this year after defending himself by firing a stun gun, has filed suit claiming that school officials failed to protect him from “relentless, severe harassment.”
Darnell “Dynasty” Young and his mother, Chelisa Grimes, are seeking unspecified damages. Young became the target of bullies after transferring last year to Arsenal Technical High School. The openly gay 17 year old was harassed by classmates who followed him home, spread rumors about his sexual activities, and threw bottles at him.
Young’s mother reported the harassment to school officials several times, but was told that administrators were powerless to act because her son wasn’t able to identify his tormentors. School principal Larry Yarrell is reported to have said, “If you wear female apparel, then kids are kids and they’re going to say whatever it is that they want to say. Because you want to be different and because you choose to wear female apparel, it may happen.”
Grimes gave him the stun gun for his protection. On April 16, after a group of students threatened to attack him, Young, frightened for his life, fired the weapon into the air, drawing the attention of school security personnel, who arrested him. In May, an arbitrator ruled in favor of expulsion, effective through January 2013. The district later reduced the penalty to allow Young to start classes in the fall, which must be attended at an alternative school.
The suit claims that the Indianapolis Public Schools discriminated against Young because, despite repeated complaints, they failed to protect him from bullies, who taunted him because of his sexual identity. “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 suit states.