The mother believes the school treated her daughter’s relationship differently because she is gay (Pexels)
A mother is threatening to sue an Indiana school district, claiming that her gay daughter was singled out by staff and subjected to “humiliating” homophobic bullying.
Melissa Hart has filed a formal complaint against the administration of Charlestown High School, alleging “discrimination, failing to protect a student from bullying and violation of students rights.”
She claims her 17-year-old daughter faced multiple instances of homophobic discrimination and bullying at the hands of a teacher and an administrator.
Speaking to the News and Tribune, Hart listed multiple occasions where the teacher “humiliated” the teen in front of other students by making “inappropriate and derogatory comments” related to her sexuality.
It began after Hart’s daughter started dating another female student, she says. The couple would “hold hands like normal teenagers,” and while there are school policies against public displays of affection, she believes her daughter was targeted specifically because they are a same-sex couple.
One day when the teen was late to class, the teacher reportedly told her in front of the class: “You wouldn’t be late if you hadn’t been kissing and hugging on that girl.”
The following week Hart’s daughter skipped that teacher’s class, citing their comments as the reason.
The school administrator found the couple hiding in a bathroom and shouted at them: “Get your s**t and get your gay asses out of there.”
The girl’s mother heard the comments as she had been listening on speaker phone. She remained on the line as two school officials questioned her daughter, asking if she was in a romantic relationship with the other student, and if they had been having intimate relations.
The questions made the girl “feel uncomfortable and isolated as she was forced to answer questions about the fact she identifies as a lesbian,” the mother said.
It wasn’t the first time the girls had been quizzed on their relationship: weeks earlier, school officials raised complaints from teachers and students about the pair holding hands.
Hart asked the school why her daughter was being singled out, and was told 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.’”
The mother has tried to rectify the situation with the school, but feels the only solutions they’ve proposed involve “mov[ing] my kid around,” either to other classes or other schools.
“Let me be clear, this is homophobic discrimination plain and simple,” Hart told the Tribune.
“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 behaviour.”