Gay Oklahoma Teen Sues School for Failing to Curb Harassment

19-year-old gay teen Michale Bullis filed a lawsuit in January in U.S. District Court, claiming that Grove school officials violated his civil rights “when they failed to provide him with a safe school environment and created a hostile climate that led to assaults and name-calling” according to the Joplin Globe:

Grovehigh_1“According to the federal complaint, Bullis claimed he was the target of ‘severe and pervasive verbal and physical harassment.’ In the complaint, Bullis also alleged that while attending Grove High School, he was routinely subjected to ‘name-calling and threats of physical harm and death’ from 2002 to November 2005…Bullis was also subjected to repeated sexual assaults, which consisted of inappropriate and unwanted backrubs accompanied by verbal mockery and insults, inappropriate stroking of his neck and throat, also accompanied by blowing in his ear and touching, and rubbing and grabbing his genitals, the complaint stated.”

Bullis cites two attacks in which he was punched and teeth were broken, and one in which he was knocked briefly unconscious. He transferred to the Grove Alternative School, he says, because the school failed to adequately protect him.

Bullis seeks $75,000 in damages and a diploma with honors. School officials, who were served the papers last week, had no comment.

Gay Grove student suing school district [joplin globe]

Comments

  1. zabadak says

    75K?
    Is that all?
    He should have bankrupted the motherfuckers & sued the parents of the kids who assaulted him as well.

    I certainly hope my contributions to Lambda Legal are being used for this kid.

  2. mark m says

    “inappropriate stroking of his neck and throat, also accompanied by blowing in his ear and touching, and rubbing and grabbing his genitals”

    Wait… Bullis is the one who’s gay, right?
    Boy, things have changed since I was in school when the gay kid just got pummeled.

  3. Da says

    Mark M I think you missed this part:

    “Bullis cites two attacks in which he was punched and teeth were broken, and one in which he was knocked briefly unconscious.”

    As for me I’m so glad to read of news of gays standing up for themselves and using the court system to fight against discrimination and abuses…first the community in Moscow, now this kid.

    I hope this judge will set an example with this case, and send a strong message to schools across the country that they can longer keep their blinders on and get away from their responsibility to crack down on the LGBT-targetting bullies.

  4. Brian says

    Speaking as one who grew up in Oklahoma and escaped as soon as possible, I think it’s awesome that gay kids are finding the balls to stand up for themselves… not only from a physical standpoint, but also holding schools, teachers, and administrators responsible for what happens to them. Kids spend more time at school than they do with their families… it’s the school’s responsibility to ensure a safe learning environment. You go, Homokie!

  5. marcus says

    75 grand is relatively nothing, considering that level of abuse. Of course, it means nothing if it wasn’t properly reported.

    It’s certainly the schools responsibility intervene, but assuming the incidents were never clearly brought to faculty attention, I really can’t blame the district.

    The school didn’t create a ‘hostile climate’ unless they knowingly disregarded the situation.

    And frankly, asking for a diploma with honors doesn’t seem right; it seems like the kid’s story isn’t going to check out.

  6. Stephen says

    So what was the school administation to do, put this boy in a steel cage with motorized wheels? Assign him a teacher’s aide for his hours on school grounds? What did the student do vis-a-vis informing the school authorities, if anything? Sorry, but it’s out of control what some homosexuals feel they deserve because of their sexuality. Let’s put an aide with every homosexual student in public schools,why don’t we? The gov’t is not taking enough of my paycheck already.

  7. says

    So what was the school administation to do…

    They’re to stop turning a blind eye. When I went to school I had to put up with a lot of shit similar to this but not as bad. Whenever I complained I was basically dismissed, but the offenders were allowed to just go on.

    I wish he would sue for much more than $75,000.00.

  8. Da says

    “So what was the school administation to do”
    Posted by: Stephen |

    Here are a few things:

    -Stop preventing students to form gay-straight alliances.
    -Stop removing books from libraries for the mere mention of homosexuality.
    -Stop preventing teachers to include homosexuality in sex education.
    etc etc?

    But even before the schools get a ‘revelation’ on how their policies create the hostile environments that foster anti-gay abuses in the first place, they have to realize that with the scope of the problem it’s no longer enough to just tell a bully to “stop it” (when they often mean “boys will be boys”) – They need to start addressing gay harassement with the same seriousness & thouroughness colleges and universities campuses have confronted sexual harassement. That is by instoring strict codes and policies to prevent it..

    To me the school admnistrator’s failure to acknowledge the issue and try to fix it, makes them responsible of all abuses incurred by gay youth in the school.

  9. Eric says

    If school officials were deliberately ignoring the harassment (which actually does happen), then he should sue. Why he needs $75,000 I’m not sure. I certainly wouldn’t feel right taking money from my school (except for the cost of my legal fees I guess).

  10. Doyle says

    Oklahoma school board need to be sue!
    For not enforcing the principal and teachers on the safety of there children!
    Oklahoma’s are anti-gay i was bullied my self in Bartlesville ok for being gay!
    The school would do nothing then and they still won’t do anything!
    Except to incite kids to hate gays!

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