HESPERIA (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California on Monday demanded that San Bernardino County school district officials step in to end discrimination against gay students by teachers and administrators at a district high school.
In an 11-page letter to Hesperia Unified School District Interim Superintendent David McLaughlin, the ACLU and law firm Nixon Peabody charged that Sultana High School administrators foster a hostile and harassing climate for gay students.
McLaughlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
Teachers and administrators have made discriminatory comments about gay people, and have not stepped in to stop bullying by students, the letter stated.
In one incident, a teacher told a student who commented that he did not have a valentine on Valentine's Day, that that's "because you're gay and nobody wants to be with you." In another, an administrator referred to a gay student's campaign for homecoming queen as a "joke." Another teacher told a student to "take the gay headband off."
The letter also states that girls are being told they must wear dresses to the prom and boys tuxedos and students are instructed to wear gender-specific attire for their yearbook photos, in violation of state and federal laws.
Additionally, administrators have censored the Gay Straight Alliance's public announcements, flyers and activities such as movie screenings.
The letter also noted that a gay teacher, who was advisor to the alliance, was told she was "a bad fit" after she helped a student file a complaint against a teacher and her contract was not renewed.
The lawyers want written assurances from the district by March 25 that discrimination will end at the school.
Kyle Bodda, president of the Sultana Gay Straight Alliance, said the atmosphere has proven distracting to learning.
"All students should feel safe and free to be themselves at school," Bodda said. "I'm hopeful the administration does the right thing and creates a safe environment where we can be ourselves without fear of being harassed."