A gay couple is suing a school district in Queens, New York, alleging their son suffered years of anti-gay bullying from his peers, followed by hostility from school officials.
According to the lawsuit filed in Manhattan Federal Court on June 28th, the sixth-grader, identified only as “D.S.,” was harrassed by students both physically and verbally for at least two years after he came out as gay.
D.S., who was adopted by two gay dads, allegedly faced homophobic rhetoric after he came out to his classmates and teachers in 2017.
According to Gay City News, the lawsuit says D.S. was told by peers he was “acting like a girl,” called “faggot ass” and “bitch,” and was told “that he would be damned to hell by God because of his ‘lifestyle.’”
After school administrators heard of the allegations from D.S., they reportedly conducted “half-hearted investigations,” which “deemed many of D.S.’s complaints unfounded.” When D.S. was told he was “destined to burn in hell,” administrators claimed allegedly called the comment a “difference of opinion.”
According to GSN, D.S. was also told by a dean at the school, in front of Jason Cianciotto, one of his adoptive fathers, that it was “inappropriate” to mention his sexual orientation at school.
“[The dead] also said, ‘well, if [D.S] didn’t talk about being gay in school, then these things wouldn’t happen,” Cianciotto explained.
“I had falsely made the presumption that when it came to bullying in school, while we couldn’t prevent it from happening consistently, that the school would follow that [anti-discrimination laws] and put a stop to it immediately,” Cianciotto told GSN. “It continued no matter what we did.”
Instead of following the law, Cianciotto said D.S. was met with bullying, harassment, dismissal, and religious-based condemnation of himself and his dads.
The lawsuit says the bullying quickly took a toll on D.S.’s mental health. Although he appeared to be making progress from years of childhood trauma, Cianciotto said D.S. began to “poke his fingers into his eyes” and frequently talk about death.
In 2019, as the bullying intensified in seventh grade, Cianciotto and his husband withdrew D.S. from the school.
Now D.S. is approaching 15 years old and is in high school, and Cianciotto said the new school environment is “different like night and day compared to IS 126.”
The family is seeking unspecified damages for the alleged abuse.