Monday, September 26, 2005

Bullied Lesbian Sues New Jersey High School

(Link) If it takes a village to raise a child, why should it also require a team of lawyers to help a teenager survive high school? Homophobic harrassment rears its ugly head once more.

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
by Jackie Yodashkin

HOLMDEL, N.J. — At a press conference Sept. 7, Lambda Legal announced a lawsuit filed with the Superior Court of New Jersey in Monmouth County on behalf of a lesbian student who was verbally and physically attacked for two and a half years in Holmdel High School. While the abuse was brought to the school administration’s attention time and again, no effective measures were taken by the school to end it.

The plaintiff, Nancy Wadington, 18, attended Holmdel High School until the middle of 11th grade when she had to leave the school to protect her safety. For nearly three years, other students had verbally harassed her, threw bottles and other objects at her, pushed her down a flight of stairs and stole and destroyed her books and backpacks — on one occasion urinating inside her backpack. Though both Wadington and her mother approached the school’s administration seeking assistance, they failed to stop the harassment.

“It is an atrocity that school officials would ignore laws in New Jersey which are touted as being the most comprehensive non-discrimination laws on the books,” said Alphonso David, staff attorney at Lambda Legal and an attorney on the case. “Holmdel High School failed horribly in its duty to protect Nancy Wadington and there is no excuse for it. Hopefully this lawsuit serves as a further wake-up call to schools that they cannot ignore anti-gay harassment and abuse.”

Based on the fears for her safety, Wadington stopped using the restrooms at school, forcing herself to go to the bathroom only before and after school, despite abdominal pain. She also stopped using the school’s locker rooms, wearing her gym clothes to and from school. She further avoided the dangerous hallways between classes and instead often walked outside the building, even in the cold and rain, to find an entry door closest to her next class.

“For me, going to school was about being humiliated. It was not about getting an education,” said Wadington. “It was my school’s responsibility to provide me with a safe learning environment, but instead they effectively ignored the harassment I was experiencing and left me to defend myself.”