The federal government has reached an agreement with a New York school district accused of ignoring complaints that other students were harassing a teenager because he acted effeminate.
The student was teased and harassed by his classmates because he displayed feminine characteristics, according to the lawsuit, which alleged that school authorities did not do enough to intervene.
Under the terms of the settlement, the Mohawk Central School District will write a $50,000 check to a trust fund for the student and a $25,000 check for lawyers’ fees to the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The school district also will pay for counseling sessions for the student and retain a discrimination prevention expert to review the policies in place.
The settlement is not an admission of liability, but in a joint statement, the district and DOJ said they hoped it could “serve as a model for other school districts confronting the issues of bullying and intolerance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other gender non-conforming students.”
When Justice Department lawyers joined the case in January, it marked the first time since President Bill Clinton was in office that DOJ lawyers argued that the protections against sex discrimination in Title IX apply to gender identity as well.
The government said it had “authority to intervene to seek relief from denials of equal protection if the matter is certified as a matter of general public importance,” as certified by Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez.
UPDATED: “All students have the right to go to school without fearing harassment based on sex, including stereotypes about appropriate gender behavior,” Perez said in a statement released Tuesday. “Such conduct has no place in our schools, and the Justice Department looks forward to working with the District and the NYCLU to ensure that all students enjoy educational opportunities without discrimination or harassment.”
The settlement is embedded below.