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Lesbian student sues NJ HS after harassment, threats

“It was my school’s responsibility to provide me with a safe learning environment, but instead they effectively ignored the harassment I was experiencing and left me to defend myself. I am not the only person to have unnecessarily been harassed because of their sexual orientation and I am here to say that we cannot just be silenced and swept under the rug.”
— New Jersey high school student Nancy Wadington, who endured unbelievable anti-gay harassment at Holmdel High School — and officials did nothing

This wasn’t a little teasing or horseplay; 18-year-old young woman suffered miserably at the hands of her classmates and no adults or administrators did anything to stop it.

What’s sad is that New Jersey actually has law on the books that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in schools and public accommodations — and still no one in the school system helped her. (

At a news conference in Holmdel, Nancy Wadington said she attended Holmdel High until the middle of eleventh grade when she had to leave the school to protect her safety.

For nearly three years, she said, other students had verbally harassed her, threw bottles and other objects at her, pushed her down a flight of stairs, and stole and destroyed her books and backpacks — on one occasion urinating inside her backpack.

Though both Nancy and her mother approached the school’s administration seeking assistance, they failed to stop the harassment the suit alleges. “It is an atrocity that school officials would ignore laws in New Jersey which are touted as being the most comprehensive nondiscrimination laws on the books,” said Alphonso David, Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal and an attorney on the case.

Holmdel High School failed horribly in its duty to protect Nancy Wadington and there is no excuse for it. Hopefully this lawsuit serves as a further wake-up call to schools that they cannot ignore antigay harassment and abuse.”

Based on the fears for her safety, David told reporters, Nancy stopped using the restrooms at school, forcing herself to go to the bathroom only before and after school, despite abdominal pain. She also stopped using the school’s locker rooms, wearing her gym clothes to and from school. She further avoided the dangerous hallways between classes and instead often walked outside the building, even in the cold and rain, to find an entry door closest to her next class.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding