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Case: Young v. IPS

STATUS: Victory, Illinois

Dynasty Young is a seventeen-year-old openly gay young man. Just before the beginning of his junior year of high school, he moved to Indianapolis and enrolled in Arsenal Technical High School. From the first day of school, Dynasty was subjected to relentless, severe harassment and abuse by his peers because he was perceived as gay and gender non-conforming and because he sometimes dressed in clothes and accessories such as knee-high boots, rings, and bangles, and carried a purse.

Students called Dynasty a “fag,” spat at him, threw rocks and bottles at him, and they would move far out of his way when he walked by as if to avoid contracting a disease from him. Both Dynasty and his mother, Chelisa Grimes, made regular reports to administrators about the harassment, but school staff took no effective steps to stop the abuse. Instead of assisting Dynasty, the school administrators blamed him for the harassment and abuse he was experiencing. According to those administrators, he was to blame for being harassed because he was too “flamboyant” and gender non-conforming. Due to the school’s indifference, the harassment and abuse persisted and became more severe as the school year progressed, taking a heavy toll on Dynasty’s mental and physical well-being.

Over the more than eight months that Dynasty endured the harassment, Chelisa became increasingly concerned for Dynasty’s safety. In March 2012, Chelisa gave Dynasty a small device labeled a “self-protection flashlight” that emitted a light, a loud noise, and a weak electric charge. On April 16, 2012, six students surrounded Dynasty and were threatening to attack him. Dynasty held the device in the air and activated it, creating a loud noise. The noise caused the aggressors to leave without harming Dynasty. Immediately after that, Dynasty proceeded to his next class. Within a few minutes, a school security officer came into the classroom, cuffed Dynasty, and brought him to the office. Instead of locating the students who threatened Dynasty and were planning to attack him, school administrators expelled Dynasty and refused to let him return to a regular high school.

On August 31, 2012, NCLR filed a federal court complaint on Dynasty’s and Chelisa’s behalf against the Indianapolis Public Schools for discriminating against him and failing to protect him from harassment based on his sex and sexual orientation, and for violating his rights under the First Amendment and Due Process Clause. On July 10, 2013, the parties announced a settlement agreement. IPS agreed to remove the expulsion from Dynasty’s record and compensate him for the harm caused by its failure to appropriately respond to the incidents of bullying that Dynasty reported. NCLR represents Dynasty with Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Waples & Hanger.

 

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