Bullying is a serious problem in schools throughout the United States, especially when it concerns lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth. Physical or verbal threats and discriminatory actions against LGBTQ students are a form of harassment and are not acceptable in the eyes of the law.
The state of California has specific laws (Title IX) (Sections 200-220 of the California Education Code) in place that are designed to help protect LGBTQ youth from harassment while at school. In short, any schools that receive state or federal funding — this includes public, charter, and even non-religious private schools — are all required by law to protect LGBTQ students from harassment.
LGBTQ students are entitled to equal protection of the law. Public schools are not allowed to subject LGBTQ students to negative treatment simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or because a school administrator or teacher does not feel comfortable around anyone whose sexual orientation or gender identity is different from theirs.
Schools are not allowed to take harassment or bullying less seriously when it involves LGBTQ youth. Further, a person doesn’t even have to be “out” in order to receive protections against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. It is also important to know that a person doesn’t have to actually be LGBTQ to suffer disparate treatment.
Title IX is a federal law that explicitly bans all forms of discrimination based on a person’s sex. It provides protections for all students attending any schools that receive federal funds. The courts have reached a general consensus that sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX includes discrimination for being a girl or boy, and also prohibits sexual harassment or discrimination when it concerns someone who does not conform to mainstream gender stereotypes. Title IX has been successfully used as a defense by many LGBTQ youth who have suffered sex discrimination or harassment in several court cases.
As bullying and harassment of LGBTQ youth has become more pervasive than ever, so have the number of states that are taking important steps to protect LGBTQ youth by specifically adding sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression to laws already intended to protect against discrimination and harassment in schools.
According to Sections 200-220 of the California Education Code, schools are required to protect all students from bias and discrimination. This includes harassment based on:
A student cannot be harassed for being LGBTQ, or because people think they are LGBTQ, or even for having friends or family members that are LGBTQ. This also means that transgender or gender non-conforming individuals cannot be harassed for their gender-related appearance or behavior.
In other words, a boy wearing makeup, long hair and a skirt will be protected from all forms of harassment or bullying while in school.
School officials are not allowed to simply turn a blind eye to anti-LGBTQ harassment or discrimination by saying that, “LGBTQ students brought the harassment on themselves”, or that “they should expect poor treatment for being out and open regarding their sexuality or gender expressions.”
Finally, under Education Code Sections 234-234.5, all school administrators, faculty and staff are required by law — if it can be done safely — to intervene when and if they witness discrimination, harassment or bullying.
In addition to the above mentioned protections, LGBTQ students also have the right to:
If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The sexual orientation discrimination lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling sexual orientation discrimination cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.
We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with a sexual orientation discrimination attorney in California, contact our office at 1-800-247-9235.
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