Your Church Can Help Stop Bullying in Local Schools

Darnell Young was relentlessly bullied, and his school district did nothing to intervene. So many parents and school officials accept anti-gay bullying as just “kids being kids,” but it is severely damaging and many times has horrendous consequences, including self-harm and suicide. Desperate to protect him, Darnell’s mother gave him a stun gun, and when he fired it in the air, he was suspended.

From the Huffington Post:

A bullied teen who was expelled for bringing a stun gun to school for protection is suing Indianapolis Public Schools, WISH-TV reports.

Darnell “Dynasty” Young, 17, says he was bullied because he is openly gay and that his mother, fearing for his safety, gave him a stun gun to ward off bullies at Arsenal Technical High School.

The incident that led to Young’s expulsion occurred on April 16, when six students allegedly surrounded him during a passing period and threatened to beat him. Young then pulled the weapon from his bag and fired it into the air. He was first expelled until January 7, 2013 for having the device, but the district reduced the penalty so Young could start the fall semester on time, according to the Indianapolis Star…

The Star reports that the suit alleges Young’s assailants used homophobic slurs and threw rocks and glass bottles at him, but administrators faulted Young, who carried his mother’s purses and wore her jewelry to school.

“Rather than take effective measures to protect him, school staff told him that he was to blame for the harassment because of his appearance and told him to change his dress and behavior to conform to stereotypical ideas of masculinity and to be less ‘flamboyant,’” the document states.

The plaintiffs also claim that IPS violated both Young’s civil rights and First Amendment right to free expression by attempting to dictate he dress differently, Indiana Public Media reports…

“The harassment and abuse I went through at Tech was horrible,” Young said in a prepared statement. “I want to make sure that no other student in the Indianapolis Public Schools ever has to go through that. I hope this lawsuit will get IPS to change the way it deals with kids who are being harassed. Schools should protect students like me instead of telling them to change who they are.”

Help Place Safe Space Kits in Local Schools

Want to help stop bullying in your area?  An excellent congregational mission project would be to join with your local chapter of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) and place a Safe Space Kit in all the local middle and high schools in your area. Safe Space Kits cost $20 per school. Be sure to let each school know that these kits come from your church and that you are a safe space for all. You may also consider writing a press release or editorial for the local media.

If your church takes on this project and you place Safe Space Kits in your local middle and high schools, please contact patrick@mlp.org so that we can report on your good work.