A student’s sexuality should be nobody’s business but her own, and the choice to come out hers to make. But softball coaches at a Texas school begged to differ. Brandon Miller writes on Gay Rights that they first cornered a female student in the locker room, accusing her of being gay, and threatening to tell her parents. Then they said she wouldn’t be allowed on the field unless she outed herself. Finally, they called the student’s mother, insisted she come down to the softball field, and tattled that her daughter was a lesbian, following this by kicking the girl off the team.
The one positive element of this story is the mother’s reaction: pissed off. Not at her daughter for her sexual orientation, but at her coaches for making a decision about sharing private items without the girl’s consent, and for kicking her off the team.
The school principal, district superintendent, and Board of Trustees have rejected the mother’s complaint about the coaches’ bullying of her daughter, defending all of their decisions as absolutely right. This stance by the Kilgore School District sets a precedent that jeopardizes the privacy of other LGBTQ students, and sanctions what is really bullying and harassment by an authority figure.
What if the student had not been lucky enough to have a mother more concerned with the violation of her daughter’s civil rights than her sexual orientation? A teenager choosing not to reveal her sexuality might have strong reason for doing so, such as homophobic parents or a history of abuse. Softball coaches don’t know what kind of harm they’re opening up a student to by outing her against her wishes.
The girl and her mother have decided to sue, in conjunction with the Texas Civil Rights Project, for “severe mental and emotion anguish,” “social isolation,” and being deprived the “freedom to deal with her sexuality privately.” They want to make certain that future LGBTQ students don’t have to go through the same ordeal. You can take action by signing this petition calling on the school to issue a statement denouncing anti-gay bullying and harassment, and to hold any guilty parties responsible in this case.
Photo credit: Laura Padgett
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