Dynasty Young’s story is tragic: When he arrived at his new Indianapolis school, he was constantly bullied for his perceived sexual orientation and gender non-conforming dress. Rather than interrupt the harassment, school officials at Arsenal Technical High School blamed Dynasty’s dress, holding him accountable for ending his own harassment by dressing more masculine. Bullies regularly referred to him as “fag,” spit on him, and on at least one occasion, threw rocks and empty glass bottles at him, leading him into a severe depression with poor academic performance. In April, when six students prepared to attack him, Dynasty activated the alarm on the self-protection flashlight his mother had given him, which successfully dispersed his would-be assailants, but caused the school to expel him. Now, he’s suing the district, which won’t readmit him except at an alternative school for troubled youth.
Dynasty’s mother, Chelisa Grimes, repeatedly called on school administrators to protect her son, but they never held his bullies to account, refusing his repeated offers to show them who his bullies were, even if he couldn’t identify them by name. She hopes the suit will protect other students from future harassment:
GRIMES: It’s important to get justice for Dynasty for the damage that IPS did to him, but it’s even more important that IPS make some real changes in the way it deals with bullying and harassment. We hope IPS will be willing to sit down and talk with us soon about ways they can improve their policies and training so that kids like Dynasty can feel safe in IPS schools. My son is a wonderful, sweet, talented young man. He deserves a chance to attend school and learn without being terrorized by other students and told that the school will not protect him unless he changes who he is.
The case illuminates the importance of specific protections for students who may identify as LGBT. Dynasty’s freedom of expression, which did not even violate the school’s dress code, should not justify the treatment he experienced. Conservatives are seemingly too focused on protecting the rights of bullies to appreciate how much damage is done when young people like Dynasty are disregarded, ignored, or even punished for trying to protect themselves. Read the full complaint for more details of his experiences, via the National Center for Lesbian Rights.