Who’s to blame when Flagler Palm Coast High School freshman Luke Herbert registers complaints about an abusive teacher and no action is taken? His school, that’s who. Herbert, a 15-year-old gay student at the Florida high school, is at the center of a lawsuit brought by his mother against the school district, not just for letting other classmates torment him, but for allowing a teacher to ridicule him in front of the class.
Luke Herbert told News 13, “It hurts. I may be different, but I’m still human and for them to treat me like that is ridiculous.” As a freshman at Flagler Palm Coast High School, Herbert said high school has been tough, especially since he’s gay. “People haven’t been nice, let’s put it that way,” Herbert said. Herbert said classmates have bullied him before, but now it’s gotten worse. One of his teachers has singled him out. “He stood in front of the class and said ‘you can’t put Mountain Dew or Pepsi in the same fridge or they’ll turn gay’. He [also] came over to me and I was like ‘hi.’ He said hi, like he was imitating me or mocking me,” Herbert said.
Herbert and his mother said they went to school officials several times, but weren’t taken seriously. “As a parent, it’s hard because you feel like you have to be there every day, begging them to please help. That’s how I felt,” Dorene Davenport said. Recently, Herbert and his mom sat down with school officials, as well as the teacher himself. Herbert said the teacher apologized and officials promised to switch his classes, but that never happened. “I don’t feel safe with him being there,” Dorene said.
While the lawsuit moves ahead, and the school investigates the teacher’s conduct, Herbert is staying home from the school — and I don’t blame him. Faced with the option of going to class and being harassed both by students and teachers, Herbert’s family chose the only one that keeps him safe. It also keeps him from an education. And that, his mother’s lawsuit claims, just isn’t right.