A 12-year-old child near Louisville, Kentucky was suspended from her bus for three days, after complaining about homophobic language from other students on the bus. The student, the daughter of two lesbian moms, complained to the bus driver about the homophobic language. But when the bus driver found out the student had two lesbian moms, the driver called the student "a contradiction" and then subsequently made her sit in silence at the back of the bus.
In the wake of the incident, the student called the bus driver a "jerk." Probably not the smartest thing to do, but not necessarily all that surprising given that the student was responding to her parents being ridiculed. When the Assistant Principal of the school found out that the student called the bus driver a "jerk," she responded by suspending this student from the bus for three days -- all because this student had the audacity to stand up for her two lesbian moms.
Worse, the Assistant Principal in this situation, Angela Allen, told the student's mother that in the future, this student should just ignore such homophobic talk, and grow "thicker skin."
Sorry, but a bus driver and an Assistant Principal are supposed to provide safe spaces for their students; not spaces where they're forced to sit in silence while students and school officials can make fun of one's same-sex parents.
Take action now. The Kentucky Equality Federation is calling on the school involved to issue an apology for how they handled this case, and are calling for the bus driver at the heart of the controversy to be reassigned to a different route. Because right now, this 12-year-old student does not feel safe riding the bus, knowing that the bus driver has no interest in protecting her safety.
For more information on this, check out the Kentucky Equality Federation's write up here.
The student, who asked the bus driver to tell students on the bus to stop using homophobic language, was told by Mattingly that she was a "contradiction." Subsequently, she was forced to sit at the back of the bus in silence, away from her friends.
In the wake of this incident, Assistant Principal Allen contacted the parents of this student, to communicate the situation and to explain that Crosby Middle School was suspending this 12-year-old student for three days from the bus. When the parent tried to explain to Assistant Principal Allen that her 12-year-old daughter was trying to confront homophobia on the bus, Assistant Principal Allen told the parent that this student just needed to suck it up and "grow some thicker skin."
That comment is wholly inappropriate. Homophobic language should never be ignored. Confronting homophobia is not about thick skin or thin skin; it's about standing up whenever someone is making fun of gay people. That's what this student was trying to do, and frankly, her bus driver and Assistant Principal Allen failed her. In this situation, you are not providing for the safety of all of your students.
The Kentucky Equality Federation is now filing a complaint with local authorities. Meanwhile, the parents involved have asked for an apology from Crosby Middle School, and for the bus driver in question to be reassigned, since this 12-year-old student no longer feels safe riding this bus.
I support this call, and urge you to apologize to this student and her parents, and reassign the bus driver. Crosby Middle School should be in the business of making sure all of its students are safe. You now need to take action to fix this situation, and to make sure all of your students -- regardless of the sexual orientation of their parents -- are safe within your school.
Thank you for your time.