Homophobic Teachers

FearNotTheQueer's picture

My first year at my new high school is about to come to a close at the beginning of June. I've been faced with many new experiences and never in my life did I think I would have to change schools because of one person. Never in my life did I think I would have my school administration tell me to drop the class instead of dealing with the problem. Never in my life did I think I could fear someone that much.
Meet Mr. Matt Mackey of Franklin High School.
I moved in the seventh grade to a suburb just south of Sacramento. The area was nearly triple the population of my old city and was less diverse. The rest of middle school passed in a haze and I soon entered high school. Band was the only class I could have ever cared about and band was where I met the worst teacher I have ever had. He was a recently converted man, fresh to Mormonism and newly wed. He had a myspace and through it he got a few profiles of his students, myself included. He'd joke around with us when we were on telling us to finish our homework or practice our instruments. Then he started to look at our profiles in depth. I had proudly announced my sexuality on myspace in that little box provided. He read it and the next day at school I was called into his office and questioned. Did I really believe I was gay? Have I considered going to a priest and asking for help? Did I want to cause my family shame? He handed me a Church of Latter-Day Saints Bible and I politely declined it I was comfortable enough with who I was to not worry about the opinion of one man. A couple weeks later we had placement testing and although I played better than most, I was sat second to last chair. Each request I petitioned for that year was denied. The name calling soon followed. Carpetmuncher, Dyke Kyke and Gay Rae. I was 15, he was nearly twice my age. My complaints to administration went unnoticed. I began faking illness to avoid my favourite class. When someone finally did notice, I was nearly suspended by SARBs for absences. My VP called me in for a chat and it was there that I explained my situation, his only response to my accusation was to send me to my counselor for a course change form. For two years I battled with administration and eventually the school board. No one listened, not even my Wildcat Unity teacher who fought such cases everyday, no, even she turned her back on me. I begged another lesbian in band to stand up with me against Mackey, she backed down and hid. I was alone.
Junior year was my time to start over. I never hid from my new class mates my sexuality. On my first day of school I wore a Rainbow Recruiter shirt. My new band director looks to me for opinions on how to better our band. I'm hurt that my school let me down. I'm hurt that my board of education let me down, but I'm glad I moved schools. My future doesn't look so bleak anymore.

Comments

jeff's picture

Hmm...

You do realize that their actions were not only illegal, but actionable? You didn't need to find a supportive teacher when you were there, but the phone number for the ACLU. Here's a sample of the cases they have fought in this regard (btw, you don't have to be a current student to file a claim like this, and the more documentation you have of this stuff, the better your case):

"2005 - The Tonganoxie School District in Kansas was ordered by a federal jury to pay $250,000 to a heterosexual teenager who suffered anti-gay taunting for four years. Dylan J. Theno, who was perceived as gay by some of his classmates, testified that other students spread rumors about him, threatened him, and called him "bitch," "fag," and "homo." He finally dropped out of school during his junior because the harassment, which had begun when was in 7th grade, had become unbearable. Theno said he reported the harassment to administrators, but eventually stopped complaining because they didn't do anything. The school district contended students often casually called each other by those names.

2005 - Joseph Ramelli and Megan Donovan, two gay former high school students from California, were awarded $300,000 by a jury that found school officials failed to act to protect them even after becoming aware of the harassment the students were experiencing. Both students from Poway High School, near San Diego, were repeatedly threatened, and Ramelli was spit on, kicked, punched, and his car was vandalized. Ramelli and Donovan were home-schooled during their senior year because they could no longer handle the constant harassment. The jury awarded $125,000 to Donovan and $175,000 to Ramelli.

2004 - The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights ordered the Toms River Regional School District to pay $50,000 to a boy who was slapped, punched and repeatedly taunted by classmates who perceived him as gay. The districe was also fined $10,000, ordered to pay $10,000 to the student's mother, and required to toughen its policies against gay-bashing. This was the first New Jersey case to determine how much school administrators must do to protect students from discrimination by other students, and it holds school officials to the same tough standards that employers must enforce in the workplace.

2004 - U.S. District Court in Des Moines awarded over $27,000 to Tyler Rothmeyer, a former high school student from Perry, Iowa who was subjected to physical and verbal abuse over three years. The adults who were supposed to protect students from abuse, ranging from teachers to the high school resource officer, all ignored or did not take Rothmeyer's claims of harassment seriously.

2003 - A federal appeals court (covering the western region of the U.S.) affirmed that schools can be held liable when they deliberately ignore anti-gay harassment. In response to a lawsuit brought by six former students of a California school system, the court said schools must take steps to eliminate harassment once they know it's happening. The case is Flores v. Morgan Hill Unified School District.

2002 - The Washoe County School District in Nevada settled a lawsuit brought by Derek Henkle, a gay student who was harassed for years in district schools. The district paid Henkle $451,000 in damages. The district also agreed to adopt LGBT-inclusive safe schools policies and implement an anti-harassment training program for school staff.

2002 - The Visalia Unified School District in California settled a lawsuit brought by George Loomis, a gay student who was harassed by teachers and students. The school district paid Loomis $130,000 in damages, and it also agreed to a sweeping package of reforms that included changes to the schools policies and anti-harassment trainings for staff and students.

2002 - The Titusville School District in Pennsylvania settled a harassment lawsuit brought by Timothy Dahle, a gay student who says he was forced to drop out of school because he could no longer bear the harassment. After first claiming Dahle never complained about the harassment, the school district suddenly ended the lawsuit and paid him $312,000.

2000 - The Somerset Independent School District in Kentucky settled a harassment lawsuit brought by Bradley Putman who suffered anti-gay harassment and death threats. The school paid Putman $135,000 and agreed to adopt a more stringent anti-harassment policy.

1998 - A federal court in Kentucky found that the Spencer County School District failed to take adequate measures to stop the harassment of Alma McGowen, who was perceived to be a lesbian by her classmates. The federal jury awarded McGowen $220,000. A federal appeals court later upheld that jury decision.

1998 - The Kent School District in Washington settled a lawsuit brought by Mark Iversen who was harassed for years at the school. The school paid Iversen $41,000 and agreed to enforce their existing anti-harassment policy and train staff about anti-gay harassment.

1998 - In a historic ruling, a federal appeals court ruled that schools can be held liable for deliberately ignoring anti-gay harassment. Jamie Nabozny sued his school in rural Wisconsin after harassment escalated into a mock rape by a group of students. The school paid Nabozny nearly one million dollars. The case is called Nabozny v. Podlesny."

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"Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there." -- Josh Billings.

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Azul's picture

Did you have to put all

Did you have to put all those down. I mean, the 2003 Appeals Court Case did it...

jeff's picture

Nah...

I prefer an abundance of evidence.

---

"Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there." -- Josh Billings.

Add me on MySpace!

whateversexual_llama's picture

Jeff said it all. You've

Jeff said it all. You've been illegally harrassed and there ARE things you can do about it.

Be yourself. 'Cause if you're busy being somebody else, who's gonna be you?

loreonpravus's picture

Ditto Jeff. That's so

Ditto Jeff. That's so horrible, people in positions of power/authority figures should know better than that.