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SPLC Demands Moss Point School District End Anti-Gay Bullying and Harassment

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 21 Mar 2013 04:45pm | comments
Photo Courtesy of AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD sunherald.com: Destin Holmes, 16, stands with her grandmother, Jennifer Holmes, during a press conference held by the Southern Poverty Law Center on Monday, March 21, 2013, in Moss Point. Holmes is being home schooled by her grandmother after she said she was repeatedly harassed for being gay while attending Magnolia Junior High. The SPLC has sent a letter to the Moss Point School District calling for action to end anti-gay bullying and harassment.

The Moss Point School District could be faced with a federal lawsuit if they do not take immediate action to end alleged anti-gay bullying and harassment. And as MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports it comes on the heels of an in-depth  investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

The demand, stated in a letter to school officials comes after students asked the Southern Poverty Law Center to investigate rampant harassment within the Moss Point School District. Sam Wolfe is a civil rights attorney with SPLC's Lesbian. Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Project.  He says after months of investigation what they found was a culture of harassment and discrimination towards LGBT students.

"One student for example told of being pushed in the halls against lockers. And we have had LGBT students reporting being regularly verbally harassed in district schools by other students calling them words such as faggot and dyke. This has been reported in some instances to school authorities and they've really failed to address the problem."

The  harassment became so severe that Magnolia Junior High School student, Destin Holmes left the district last March to be home schooled.

"One time I was in math class and the teacher came up with a trivia game to help us prepare for a test. And she divided the class  into two teams, male versus female and I wasn't on a team. The teacher had told me to be in the middle because she didn't know what I was so she said I could just be on a team by myself."

Wolfe says the law center's investigation uncovered a number of examples of bullying including students being forced to remove clothing.

"Because it did not conform to somebody's idea of how a boy or a girl should appear. And at least in one instance we've had a principle that told a student that if she was going to act like a boy then she should be treated like a boy as though it was her fought that she was facing harassment."

The SPLC says if the school district does not take immediate action to end the alleged harassment and discrimination they will be forced to file a federal lawsuit.  Moss Point School officials say they have no comment at this time because of the ongoing investigation. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

 

 

 

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Photo Courtesy of AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD sunherald.com: Destin Holmes, 16, stands with her grandmother, Jennifer Holmes, during a press conference held by the Southern Poverty Law Center on Monday, March 21, 2013, in Moss Point. Holmes is being home schooled by her grandmother after she said she was repeatedly harassed for being gay while attending Magnolia Junior High. The SPLC has sent a letter to the Moss Point School District calling for action to end anti-gay bullying and harassment.


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