A student in Buffalo, New York is taking legal action against his school for continuing to ignore his requests to form an LGBT+ support club.
Byshop Elliott—a gay Year 11 student—repeatedly attempted to form an after school group at McKinley High School where teenagers could discuss issues related to sexuality and gender identity.
“Everyone has their own clubs, and I want LGBTQ students to have their own Gay-Straight Alliance that’s a safe space,” says Elliott.
“So we can march under our own school’s banner at Pride next month, just like students from other high schools do.”
Despite collecting 140 student signatures and following official protocol to form the group, Elliott’s requests were ignored—so he decided to file a lawsuit.
"I’m not trying to stir the pot," the 18-year-old tells Buffalo News. "I just want them to wake up."
Elliott’s case was brought to the attention of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) which is now representing the teenager against his principal, Crystal Boling-Barton.
The suit alleges that Boling-Barton “routinely, openly and systematically” discriminates against LGBTQ students at McKinley High.
According to the NYCLU, students in same-sex relationships at the school are warned via loudspeaker announcements that prom tickets are for straight couples only and the principal has been known to separate girls dancing together and warned them to “stay apart or face punishment".
“Schools should encourage kids who try to make the learning environment more inclusive for other students,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.
“But LGBTQ students at McKinley have met only discouragement, inaction and homophobia from the school and district charged with supporting them.
“This goes against everything New York stands for.”
Elliott says it’s “disappointing” that his school continues to discriminate against LGBT+ students.
“Everyone should have a chance to feel included and excited about high school, including LGBTQ students.
“I wish this wasn’t still an issue today but it is," says Elliott.