Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Dennis Carlson
16. Heteronormative Harassment: Queer Bullying and Gender-Non-Conforming Students
Possible Origins of Queer Bullying
Queer Bullying and Gender-Nonconforming Students
sj Miller & James R. Gilligan
Jamie Nabozny, a gay high school student, was subjected to relentless antigay verbal and physical abuse by fellow classmates at his public high school in Ashland, Wisconsin. Classmates urinated on him, feigned raping him, and—when they discovered him alone—kicked him in the stomach so brutally that he required surgery. When school authorities were notified of the taunts and injuries, school officials said that Nabozny should expect it by virtue of simply being homosexual. Nabozny internalized his suffering, and attempted suicide many times, dropped out of school, and ultimately ran away. His family later sued the school, but a trial court dismissed the lawsuit.
In 1996, Lambda Legal (n.d.), an LGBT legal-advocacy group, took the case, Nabozny v. Podlesny, to a federal appeals court, which—for the first time in U.S. history—ruled that public schools can be held accountable for ignoring, tolerating, and/or failing to prevent or stop the abuse of homosexuals. While the case marked the first time the Equal Protection Clause was applied to support an openly gay student, the ruling was decided on facts related to sex stereotyping and differential treatment of male and female students (the mock rape in particular) and not protections based on sexual orientation. When the case went back to trial, a jury found the school officials liable for the harm they caused to Nabozny. The...
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