>Charles Pratt, a student in upstate New York, filed suit last April against his school district on claims that he faced severe anti-gay bullying and harassment before he was forced to drop out at age 15. Citing repeated pleas from his parents, Charles claims that district officials were aware of the harassment he faced but deliberately refused to help him. He is represented by Lambda Legal, which reports that he faced almost daily episodes of name-calling and physical intimidation. His sister, Ashley Petranchuk, is also suing the district for denying her rights to start a gay-straight alliance.
The Indian River Central School District has already filed a motion to dismiss the case, but the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a motion to participate as an "amicus curiae," or friend of the court, to help the court decide whether federal discrimination claims should be upheld and to prevent the case from being dismissed.
The Department of Justice intervened in a suit earlier this year in Mohawk, NY also under a Title IX based claim of bullying and discrimination. These cases may represent a new focus at the Department of Justice regarding preventing LGBT-based bullying and harassment.
The Department of Justice contends the arguments of the New York school district are incorrect, and therefore, could add a significant weight to Charles and Ashley’s case. However, the motion to dismiss remains pending.
Submitted by Sara LaPlante
GLSEN Public Policy Intern