After a 17-year-old high school student claimed she was discriminated against for being lesbian, her mother intends to sue the school for violating her rights.
On Oct. 2, Charlestown, Indiana resident Melissa Hart sent a letter of intent to sue to Greater Clark County School’s administration alleging “discrimination, failing to protect a student from bullying and violation of students' rights,” according to News and Tribune.
This is in connection with Hart’s formal complaint on Sept. 30 to both Charles High School and Greater Clark, alleging that her daughter faced “homophobic discrimination” and bullying at the hands of a teacher and an administrator.
Hart states in the complaint that she is “disgusted” with the behavior of CHS administration for making inappropriate and derogatory remarks in reference to her daughter’s sexual orientation on multiple occasions, and for using homophobic remarks while speaking to her.
“It is time to stop brushing these issues under the rug,” Hart writes in the complaint. “It is time for Greater Clark County Schools to take decisive action against homophobia and discrimination of any kind taking place within the walls of our schools. Additionally, Greater Clark must invest in comprehensive training for staff regarding how to compassionately deal with LGBT students.”
In the intent to sue letter, Hart is seeking the firing of three Greater Clark employees, unspecified monetary damages for pain and suffering, and a public apology.
Hart told the News and Tribune that her daughter declined to speak with them.
The News and Tribune also reports that Greater Clark Superintendent Mark Laughner said Oct. 2 that “we take these allegations seriously. We have opened an investigation. We cannot comment further on the details surrounding the allegations until the investigation is complete.
“Greater Clark does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex [including transgender status, sexual orientation, and gender identity]. We follow all federal and state laws concerning reports of discrimination. In addition, all staff complete mandatory anti-discrimination training.”
Incidents At School
Hart worries that her daughter has been “targeted” when she started dating another female student, according to News and Tribune.
Hart said her daughter has told her multiple times that one of her teachers, who was named in the complaint and the letter of intent to sue, has “humiliated” her in front of other students more than once, the News and Tribune reports. One day when she was late to class after being in the hallway with her girlfriend, she alleges that the teacher told her in front of the class: “You wouldn’t be late if you hadn’t been kissing and hugging on that girl.”
The teacher did not respond to emailed requests for comment by the News and Tribune.
Hart said a school official caught her daughter and her girlfriend skipping class on Sept. 28, reported the News and Tribune. Her daughter then called Hart and put the phone on speaker, listening to the school official yell, “Get your s**t and get your gay asses out of there.”
Hart told the News and Tribune that she was still listening as two school officials spoke to her daughter in the hallway and in the administration office. At first, they asked what she was doing, and she admitted to skipping.
Then they asked if she was in a romantic relationship with the other student and if they were being intimate, to which she said that they were only watching TikTok videos and eating cookies.
Hart said in a letter emailed to the News and Tribune that the questions made her daughter “feel uncomfortable and isolated as she was forced to answer questions about the fact she identifies as a lesbian.”
Hart learned on Sept. 28 that a school official had spoken to her daughter and girlfriend a couple of weeks ago about complaints from teachers and students about the pair holding hands, according to the News and Tribune. Hart then questioned why her daughter was being targeted, in which the reason is that the Charlestown community “isn’t ready to deal with same-sex relationships.”
“I told him, ‘she has rights, my daughter does have rights,’” Hart said, to which she alleges he responded, ‘No ma’am, she doesn’t,’” reported the News and Tribune.
Hart agrees with her daughter receiving an hour of detention for skipping class.
“The only thing my daughter is guilty of is [skipping] class,” Hart told the News and Tribune.
Hart’s Next Move
Hart told the News and Tribune that moving her daughter to another class or school has been one of the proposals from the administration. However, her daughter wants to be at school instead of learning online.
“She just wants to be in school and be normal — that’s honest to God what she wants,” Hart said, according to the News and Tribune.
Hart intends to file a complaint with the Indiana Department of Education if her daughter encounters any more discrimination from the school, reported the News and Tribune.
“Let me be clear, this is homophobic discrimination plain and simple,” Hart said in the CHS complaint. “You do not have the right to interrogate my daughter regarding her sexual orientation. [The school official] should be ashamed of himself for targeting my daughter with his homophobic remarks in front of her and the entire class. The CHS administration should be ashamed of themselves for condoning, promoting, and participating in this behavior.”