Settlement Protects Students’ Right to Be Free from Harassment, Discrimination and Gender Stereotypes: “These comprehensive changes will go a long way towards making Clay County schools a safer place for all students, including LGBTQ students.”
(Jacksonville, FL, September 21, 2005) — NCLR and Equality Florida applaud the Clay County School Board’s decision last week to amend its policies to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as part of a settlement agreement with former Fleming Island High School senior Kelli Davis. NCLR sent a demand letter to the school board on Kelli’s behalf after Kelli’s photo was removed from her senior yearbook because she wore a tuxedo rather than the revealing frilly scoop neck drape that the girls were required to wear.
In the settlement agreement, the school board agreed to change its senior portrait policy, add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy for both students and teachers, distribute a copy of the new non-discrimination policy to all secondary school students, provide annual non-discrimination training that includes sexual orientation to all faculty and staff, and provide diversity training that includes sexual orientation to all junior high and high school students in the district.
“These comprehensive changes will go a long way towards making Clay County schools a safer place for all students, including LGBTQ students,” said Karen Doering, NCLR Regional Counsel and consultant to Equality Florida.
Kelli, who began classes at the University of South Florida this Fall, said, “I’m just relieved it’s over and that no other student in Clay County will have to go through the embarrassment, humiliation and frustration I went through. I hope the new policies will help the faculty understand it’s their responsibility to intervene when kids are being picked on because they’re gay or because they don’t meet society’s stereotype of how they are supposed to look or act.”
“We’re glad the school board has agreed to this common sense solution,” said Doering. “Hopefully school officials will be more reluctant to create such dress codes in the future, but if they do, students like Kelli will now have a clear remedy. We’re very pleased with the outcome.”
Last year, NCLR successfully resolved a similar case on behalf of Hillsborough County high school senior Nikki Youngblood.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.