Saturday, January 16, 2010

U.S. Justice Department intervenes in gay Mohawk teen's lawsuit - By EMERSON CLARRIDGE - Observer-Dispatch

MOHAWK — The U.S. Justice Department intervention in the civil case of a former Mohawk Central School District student could lead to a broader interpretation of a federal law that prohibits gender discrimination by applying it to the harassment of a gay male, an attorney in the case said Friday night.

The 14-year-old openly gay student, Jacob, who once attended Gregory B. Jarvis Junior/Senior High School, alleges the district failed to stop other students and a teacher from bullying him because of his sexual orientation.


The federal involvement represents a significant shift for the Justice Department under the Obama administration, the New York Civil Liberties Union lawyer said.

The government cites Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was passed to prevent gender discrimination, as the basis for joining the lawsuit filed last summer in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York.

The teenager’s lawyers Friday night cast the case as a fight for basic human rights.

“This is a very significant development and great news for the children who go to school in the Mohawk district,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the NYCLU, which filed the suit on Jacob's behalf.

The suit seeks undisclosed monetary damages. The Justice Department’s legal filing states the government is entering the case against Mohawk to ensure “district-wide relief for all district students” in the future.
Read complete article - By EMERSON CLARRIDGE - Observer-Dispatch

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