A Kansas public school district has agreed to reforms, including publicizing of its anti-discrimination policies and training for its staff, after a student was disciplined and told she couldn’t ride a school bus for several days after she said she was a lesbian during a bus ride home.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas sent a letter to the superintendent of the North Lyon County Unified School District 251 on July 6 telling the district that the actions of school staff violated Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities receiving federal funds.
The civil rights organization also said that the school violated 14-year-old Izzy Dieker’s rights under the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Based on an independent investigation conducted by the Kansas Association of School Boards, the ACLU letter said that several students riding a school bus were leaning in and out of the aisle and using profanities on Jan. 27.
Dieker, who was riding the bus, did none of those things, the letter notes. When she said, “I’m a lesbian,” the bus driver, Kristi Gadino, pulled the bus over and reprimanded Dieker, telling her, “Watch your language.” She added, “Do you think that these little kindergarteners need to know what that word means?”
After the bus ride, Gadino wrote up Dieker for disobeying the driver, using “unacceptable language,” and being rude or discourteous, and Izzy’s parents were told she would be temporarily suspended from riding the bus. The school principal told her and a teacher who advocated for her that despite the fact that video footage showed that Izzy had not been rude or disobedient, calling herself a lesbian was “inappropriate” and the suspension would stand.