Education

IPS, expelled gay student settle bullying lawsuit

An Indianapolis Public Schools student expelled after he fought back against bullies has settled a civil case with the district, according to his lawyer. As part of the settlement, the student will receive $65,000.

Dynasty Young, an openly gay student, moved to Indianapolis and enrolled at Arsenal Tech for the 2011-2012 school year. He said he endured months of harassment and bullying from other students while school administrators refused to acknowledge the abuse.

He and his mother said they repeatedly told the school about problems and asked school officials to step in. Instead, they said officials blamed Young for being “too flamboyant.”

Afraid for her son’s safety, Young’s mother gave him a stun gun for protection. On April 6, 2012, six students surrounded Young. He took the device out of his bag and activated, causing the students to scatter. The school later expelled him.

The family appealed for him to return to school, but a letter said Young could only return to IPS if he attended New Horizons Alternative School—a place described as a school for “students who cannot adjust to a traditional school setting.” Young instead enrolled at Indianapolis Metropolitan High School, a charter school. The family filed a lawsuit against IPS to challenge his expulsion, saying the district failed to protect Young.

The case attracted national attention, and Indiana later enacted a new anti-bullying law requiring schools to, among other things, create anti-bullying plans and train staff members and students on how to recognize bullying.

Young graduated from Indianapolis Metropolitan last month.

As part of the terms of the settlement, IPS will expunge the expulsion from Young’s record and give him $65,000 in compensation for what happened at Arsenal Tech; Young plans to use that money for his education. The settlement must be approved by the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.

“I am glad that we were able to resolve this case and that IPS was willing to take the steps needed to help me get my life back on track,” Young said in a statement accompanying the settlement announcement. “Things are starting to fall back into place for me. I am really looking forward to working with school districts to meet their obligations under Indiana’s new anti-bullying law and being a resource for students who have experienced bullying.”

His attorneys said the case marks the end of “two very difficult years” for their client and said Young would continue efforts to raise awareness about bullying in schools.

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