Luke Herbert — the Florida high school student whose shop teacher Floyd Binkley warned other students about turning soda gay by storing it in the same fridge — will receive a public apology from the teacher who harassed him, as well as Flagler County School District offering Luke options to make the rest of his high school career a “safe” one. (Luke stopped attending classes to avoid torment.) The move comes only after the ACLU got involved and threatened to throw down on behalf of Luke, who was also victimized by classmates in school and on Facebook; he was physically attacked by a classmate who used anti-gay slurs. As you might expect, reports to administrators about his bullying fell on deaf ears. Meanwhile, Flagler County is also going to work on creating a GSA and will add sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-bullying/harassment policy. Is this enough?
FlagerLive.com relays the details of the settlement:
After attempting unsuccessfully to change classes, Luke quit going to school two months ago. In the meantime, Luke’s mother hired Phil Chanfrau, an attorney, the American Civil Liberties Union got involved, the school investigated, and earlier today, the ACLU and School Board Attorney Kristy Gavin said a settlement was reached: Binkley will publicly apologize, though Luke is not returning to FPC this year. He’ll continue his work through Florida Virtual School, and will have the option of either returning to FPC next fall, transferring to Matanzas or continuing with virtual school.
School officials, according to the ACLU, acknowledged that Luke’s harassment had not been handled as swiftly as it should have been and several missteps had occurred: a conference between him and a guidance counselor was also misinterpreted as a confidential conversation, rather than a call to action, which caused a delay in the school’s response.
The district officially reprimanded the teacher who harassed Luke in class, in writing—but no suspension—and agreed to a series of actions to make amends for the impact the bullying had on Luke and prevent any further bullying and harassment of Flagler County School District students. The district agreed to recommend that the school board add protections for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the Student Code of Conduct and the school district’s bullying and harassment policy
As for Binkley’s apology?
Binkley, a 21-year veteran, has apologized privately to Luke. But the student asked that the apology, like the offense, be made publicly. That will take place by way of a video public service announcement featuring Binkley, and that will be added to the school’s website. Luke was asked if his name needed be made part of the announcement. Luke said that was not necessary: only the acknowledgment, from the teacher, that an offense had taken place, and that it was directed at a student.
No, no. Make that man post his apology on the web for all to see. Because apparently common sense doesn’t discourage bullies. Even adult ones. Maybe a public shaming will.