Darnell “Dynasty” Young, the openly gay teen suspended from Arsenal Technical High School for brandishing a stun gun in self-defense from a group of bullies, and his mother Chelisa Grimes are suing Indianapolis Public Schools for doing nothing to stop the “relentless, severe harassment” he faced.
According to the suit, Dynasty was both verbally and physically abused by classmates who spat at and threw rocks and bottles at him, though the administrators blamed the 17-year-old for inciting the abuse. Dynasty would often carry his mother’s purses and wear her jewelry to school.
“Rather than take effective measures to protect him,” the suit alleges, “school staff told him that he was to blame for the harassment because of his appearance and told him to change his dress and behavior to conform to stereotypical ideas of masculinity and to be less ‘flamboyant.’”
Young, Grimes and their attorney — Christopher F. Stoll from the National Center for Lesbian Rights — claim that the district violated Dynasty’s civil rights and the U.S. Constitution after discriminating against him based on his sexual orientation and trying to get him to change the way he dressed, a basic First Amendment freedom of expression issue.
Dynasty was initially expelled until January for carrying the weapon, given to him by his mother over fears he would be hurt, but in August the district reduced his penalty so that he could start school in the fall. IPS dictated, however, that Young would have to attend a different school. Dynasty declined this invitation and is finishing up his senior year at Indianapolis Metropolis High School.
“The harassment and abuse I went through at Tech was horrible,” Dynasty said in a statement Friday. “I want to make sure that no other student in the Indianapolis Public Schools ever has to go through that. I hope this lawsuit will get IPS to change the way it deals with kids who are being harassed. Schools should protect students like me instead of telling them to change who they are.”