Tuesday, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a federal lawsuit against the Moss Point School District in Mississippi on behalf of a lesbian student who claims she has been repeatedly mocked and bullied by students and teachers. Back in March, SPLC asked the school district to change its policy to protect LGBT students from harassment and bullying, but the civil rights organization says Moss Point has not met their request.
You can read the full complaint here.
The seventeen-year-old student, Destin Holmes, said the mistreatment she received made it difficult to focus on school work.
My grades sucked, because it was hard to concentrate with them calling you a freak, and a dyke and a lesbian.
Holmes said the bullying began at Magnolia Junior High in the 2011-12 school year. She was home schooled for a year and then enrolled in Moss Point High School. She alleged the bullying continued, because she’s a lesbian.
When asked about how experience at school, she said it was “horrible.”
SPLC Staff Attorney Anjali Nair explained why the federal lawsuit was necessary.
Destin suffered from severe, pervasive harassment from students, teachers, and administrators in the district on account of her sexual orientation.
After sending the school district a demand letter in March of 2013, that they take steps to prevent and end the bullying and harassment within the school district, we were not able to reach a resolution to guarantee the safety of students like Destin.
And we’re asking that the district to create policies and procedures that will hold the district accountable for responding and investigating reports of harassment. We’re also seeking financial relief for Destin and her family for the harm that she suffered.
The group has not decided on the amount they are seeking yet.
Holmes also said she hopes the lawsuit will encourage the school district to be more open-minded.
Open up their mind and realize you don’t need to bully somebody just because they want to date girls or they want to be gay, or they want to be lesbian, or bi, or a transgender. I’m hoping it will just stop.
The Moss Point School sent a statement to WLOX regarding the allegations and the pending lawsuit.
The district has not been served with the lawsuit. Since this is a matter in litigation, we cannot speak to the specifics of the claims. Protecting our students from acts of bullying, harassment, intimidation and threats by any individual is our highest priority. The district has in place policies and procedures to ensure that our students are free from discrimination and bullying. We, as most districts across the nation, try to ensure that students in our schools are safe and secure.
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