Gay Indiana teen settles bullying lawsuit for $65,000

The Associated Press

An openly gay Indianapolis teenager expelled from an Indianapolis high school for bringing a stun gun to school to protect himself from bullies agreed to settle his discrimination lawsuit against the school district for $65,000.

The proposed settlement filed this week in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis also calls for Indianapolis Public Schools to remove all references of Darnell “Dynasty” Young being expelled from school from the 18-year-old’s academic record. The agreement still must be approved by a judge.

Young and his mother, Chelisa Grimes, filed a lawsuit last Aug. 31 seeking unspecified damages, accusing administrators of failing to stop the “relentless, severe harassment and abuse by other students” of Young while he attended Arsenal Technical High School during the 2011-12 school year.  They contended he was harassed “because his clothing, behavior and demeanor did not fit stereotypical notions of masculinity.”

The lawsuit said Young would sometimes wear “clothing and accessories that are stereotypically associated with women’s apparel,” but said it did not violate the school’s dress policy. Young said he told school staff about the harassment and he was told it was his fault because he was perceived as gay and he should try to be less “flamboyant.”

Young said he was spat at and other students threw rocks and empty glass bottles at him on his way home and called him homophobic slurs. The lawsuit says that on April 16, 2012, Young used a “self-protection flashlight” when he was surrounded by six male students threatening to attack him, raising it over his head, activating it and causing a loud noise, which led to him being expelled.

Young graduated from Indianapolis Metropolitan High School, a charter school, in June and plans to attend Atlanta Metropolitan College next fall. He said in a telephone interview Wednesday he’s pleased with the settlement.

“I think what I did and what I went through got things changed,” he said, saying he believes future openly gay students will be treated better by Indianapolis schools.

Young, who now lives in Decatur, 20 miles southeast of Fort Wayne, said he plans to use the money to launch an anti-bullying magazine next year and to run an anti-bullying campaign after he graduates college.

“I can help people. I can do a lot of things with that amount,” he said.

Indianapolis Public Schools spokesman John Althardt says the district doesn’t comment on legal matters.

Young said he plans to speak at schools in Indiana about bullying.