Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan – in re: Gay-bashing of Students, and Darnell “Dynasty” Young
U.S. Secretary of Education
Dear Secretary Duncan:
This is to demand that you start holding school administrators, teachers and staff accountable when they do not uphold laws that are supposed to protect LGBT students’ rights to a fear-free learning environment.
Your current modus operandi in the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights is virtually never to hold public school gay-bashers accountable.
That has simply got to change.
The Anoka-Hennepin settlement held no school officials accountable for enabling gay bashers in violations of students’ rights under Title IX. The terms of the settlement, moreover, left gay bashers free to gay bash during school Board meetings. In a letter of appeasement to an adult gay-basher, the president of the Anoka-Hennepin School Board boasted that the settlement did not commit the school district to any policy changes.
In the Flagler, Florida public schools, gay teen Luke Herbert was subjected to 1) anti-gay stalking, 2) anti-gay death threats, 3) repeated anti-gay assaults, including one in which an anti-gay thug crashed his head into cement on school grounds, with many witnesses present, 4) a teacher-led campaign of criminal anti-gay harassment and retaliation, and umpteen additional illegal gay-bashing activities — and yet when OCR investigated — despite its having been given copious and meticulous records of the gay-bashing, and of the school administration’s having retaliated against the victim instead of punishing his tormentors — OCR granted Flagler Superintendent Janet Valentine’s request for a “no-fault” resolution of the complaint. It can not go unmentioned here that Floyd Binkley, the teacher who led an anti-gay torture campaign against Luke Herbert, has a wife who works as Superintendent Valentine’s executive secretary. Luke was as a good as thrown out of the public school system — though he had done nothing wrong — and to this day has yet to be placed in a learning environment appropriate to his earning a high-school diploma.
At Indianapolis’s Arsenal Technical High School recently, gay student Darnell “Dynasty” Young was subjected to routine gender-based criminal harassment, about which the school did nothing. Young’s mother repeatedly tried to get the school to uphold the law so her son would be safe, but the school never took action to end the criminal harassment directed against Young. Fearing for his safety, Darnell’s mother gave him a pocket-sized stun gun. One day in Arsenal Technical High School”s public areas, a gang of gay-bashing thugs threatened Darnell; he let off a warning shot in the air with his stun gun. For that, he has been expelled, while all of his anti-gay tormentors remain in the school.
That is the outrageous, established pattern. When LGBT victims of anti-gay criminal harassment in public schools are not driven to suicide, they are driven out of the schools while their tormentors remain in the public school systems.
In Darnell Young’s case, his school Superintendent Eugene White, Communications Director Mary Louise Bewley, and Principal Larry Yarrell blitzed their local media with a public relations smoke screen but refused to answer national reporters’ Socratic questions related to why they had allowed Darnell Young’s gay-bashing tormentors to continue tormenting him in the school.
Instead of punishing Darnell’s bullies, the school engaged in victim blaming, advising him to “tone down” his clothing and accessories. Indiana Department of Education spokesman Alex Damron told me that the Department “believes that victim blaming is wrong.” Damron also said “we have sent a letter to the local principal and district Title IX monitor notifying them of the potential issue, providing guidance regarding the requirements of Title IX and contact information for the U.S. DOE OCR.”
Pretty words, that — as usual — say nothing about enforcement and accountability.
The appearance is that the school administrators had not discussed with the School Board members the tortures being inflicted on Darnell Young, with a mind to holding his bullies accountable. After Darnell was expelled, one Board member told me “I am very sorry this young man has been bullied and has suffered. As a board member I promise to obtain all the information I can on the matter and use that information to proceed further.” Another School Board member told me that “it is my opinion the school administration failed to conduct a detailed investigation about the alleged incidents of bullying and failed to follow IPS policies and procedures.” She also said “based on the information I have received, we have violated the civil rights of one particular student.”
Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition said “I am horrified at the fact that the school has done absolutely nothing to protect this young man who was bullied and attacked for who he is. You can’t call for Dynasty to be expelled but not hold your own administration accountable for not addressing this type of harassment.”
How about it, United States Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan?
When will you direct those under you in your Department to hold gay-bashing school administrators, teachers and staff accountable for breaking laws by allowing LGBT students routinely to be tortured in public schools?
PS — after Darnell’s unjust suffering was reported widely in his area, he was attacked and beaten by an anti-gay thug at a local mall. Had his school officials acted to discipline his bullies in a first instance, that never would have happened.