Coaches Cut 8th grade Child from Baseball b/c Parents are Gay School Board Refused Hearing
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Our names are Kessiah and Stephanie Young. Thank you for taking the time to read and better understand the injustice suffered by our son who is an 8th grader at Newton-Conover Middle School. No matter what your stance on gay marriage or parenting, I think we can all agree that no child deserves to be humiliated and treated unfairly because of their family structure. Discrimination is wrong any time it happens, but when it happens to a child, it's even worse. The only way for our son to receive justice is for him to be given his deserved place back on his baseball team in his final year of middle-school. No other returning player was cut from the team; just our son! We have gone back and forth as to whether we even want our child on this team, around these coaches, but the bottom line is, equality mandates it. Equality is not we let these grown men rob our child of his opportunity to be on his own school team. Equality is making sure we don't let them bully our son off the team.
April 1, 2017
We started this journey trying to get justice for Peyton from his school at Newton Conover Middle School and the Newton Conover City Schools system. It is obvious now that this is not an option without legal remedies. Therefore, Peyton is now playing baseball for another non-school program so that we can lessen the damage done to him through the discrimination that he experienced from the baseball coaches at Newton Conover Middle School. These coaches broke his confidence down, destroyed parts of his self-esteem and dignity, while robbing him of equal opportunity and access through their discrimination. Our goal has now changed to get something productive done about the lack of oversight and accountability that athletic programs have to discriminate against children. If I were to show you the measurement sheet that the NCCS finally turned over to us you would understand the dire need to overhaul the way children are not treated equitably. Not only were the assessments/measurements of children trying out incomplete, but they were obviously falsified. They have recorded times for players that reflect sprint times that they are incapable of achieving while downplaying the performance of others. The school system says that "Extra-curricular activities are not a proper right." This means that they can treat children any way they see fit out there and deny them the equality they deserve just because a coach wants to. The school system supports this type of subjective measurement system, giving full authority to even the most unethical and violent coaches. I know the coach is unethical and violent because he personally attacked me and then lied about it, and had his co-workers to lie too. We cannot continue to let the school system neglect the safety and welfare of our children when it comes to athletics. The evaluation assessment/measurement sheet that was submitted for the investigation shows the gross lack of integrity required to prevent discrimination from happening. Three days of tryouts resulted in shoddy and incomplete assessment and recording. Some of the kids that showed up for tryouts did not even have measurements recorded on the sheet. No such grading system would stand up in the classroom and it should not stand up on a court or field. These are still students and they are our children. As far as the coaches who participated in discrimination, they need to be punished. They should not have access and opportunity to harm children further. I have asked for about two weeks to file bullying, harassment, and discrimination charges against the coach for attacking me but no one has even called me or emailed me to take my complaint. The school board, the superintendent, and the attorney are all aware, but they are not taking the complaint either. We are parents of two children at this school system. For the school board to shrug us off like we don't exist says something about NCCS. We must try to make changes for the next child who will potentially fall victim to this corruption at Newton Conover City Schools.
March 29, 2017
We still have not gotten any justice for Peyton from Newton Conover Middle School, the superintendent's office or the NCCS school board. Today however, one of the middle school teachers was on the news because he has been found out to be a pedophile. I thank God that the school was not responsible for conducting the investigation for the teacher who was trying to meet a 14 year old girl during school hours. I am confident that they would have concealed the unethical and illegal acts if the school system had done the investigation because that is what happened with our son and his claim of discrimination, bullying, and harassment from his coaches at the middle school. Luckily, the NCMS teacher got busted by law enforcement during a sting. It would not surprise me at all if they keep the teacher. Newton-Conover City Schools protects their staff and neglects our children. That is a fact. They protect teachers who bully children. The enlist volunteers who do the same. Children are not safe at NCCS. I was attacked by a coach and though I have spent over a week waiting for the school board to let me file a complaint, it isn't a priority. Some of these teachers are a danger to children and parents, though the superintendent's office protects these staff.
March 10, 2017
The Newton-Conover City School Board in conjunction with the Superintendent's office, violated its own policies to further discriminate and retaliate against a child and student by refusing to conduct a MANDATORY hearing upon our request to appeal. We claimed discrimination from the very start. They have a Discrimination, Bullying, and Anti-Discrimination Policy that Peyton should have been protected by. These people further damaged him by not following their own procedure. WHY? Evidently, their attorney Dean Shatley is now saying that no federal, state, NC board of education, or NCCS board of education policies were violated. I'm sorry. Am I missing something? Is he saying it is legal to discriminate against a student and child because their parents are gay?
Here is the Link to the policy they violated in order to stop Peyton from telling his story to them:
MARCH 8, 2017
Since our initial complaint on February 9, 2017, we have talked to director of human resources Sylvia White, talked to the principal Rosanna Whisnant of Newton Conover Middle School, talked to the athletic director Sean Fitzgerald, and the head coach Chris Hinson. We have been to the Superintendent's office and dealt with the assistant superintendent Aron Gabriel and the superintendent David Stegall.
Also, our child's petition has been used as a forum for North Carolina State Employees David Stegall superintendent of Newton-Conover City Schools, Jennifer Canrobert bookkeeper of Iredell-Statesville Schools and Ryan McDuffie a parent who was not authorized/cleared to be in a coaching capacity during the 2/6-2/8 tryouts to slander and bully our child. Neither Stegall or Canrobert have ever met our son and were not at the tryouts in 2017 or the practices where he was being discriminated against, bullied, and harassed by the head coach and the assistant coach at the time. They have NO first hand information about Peyton at all. Ryan McDuffie, who was deciding who would make the team without even having a background check in place during tryouts, wrote a long and slanderous post on my child's petition. He lied about being the most unbiased coach by failing to mention that he measured his 6th grade son and put him on the list of players that made the team. McDuffie and his son have different last names, so the other kids who tried out didn't realize that a daddy was on the field cutting players while making sure his own kid was not cut. Also, they had the 2016 assistant coach participating in tryouts. This man had a violent past and we had already dealt with his homophobia at a local optimist. He was not supposed to be involved in the 2017 tryouts, but he was!
The final result of all these interactions has been a negligent investigation that facilitated further discrimination and retaliation. Evidently, NCCS thinks that in order for discrimination to have occurred, someone had to call us to our face derogatory slurs. We just called the NCCS attorney to find out the decision. Attorney Shatley stated that a letter will be mailed but that the school board has decided not to grant a hearing for Peyton's discrimination claim. The school board is not doing its job to protect our children. Further, the school board VIOLATED their own policy which mandates that they conduct a mandatory hearing with us because our claim of discrimination against our son falls within the federal anti-discrimination and retaliation laws. It is clear at NCCS, the rules don't apply. They do whatever they want. Guess we are going to the next level. So so SAD! No big surprise considering the superintendent already told us the investigation at NCCS was DONE even before the school board met. The following are our school board members. I just got off the phone with ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). I am adding them as a decision maker along with the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S, Department of Education to this discrimination claim and hope they will take up our cause for justice for Peyton. I hope NCCS has a real good reason why they refused to hear a claim of discrimination against a child and student, as well as their failure to implement their own policy which mandated that a hearing must be done.
Feel free to email and thank our school board members for failing to protect children from discrimination!
We are asking you to email the school board:
Tell the SCHOOL BOARD to put STUDENTS FIRST; NOT STAFF!!! "Discrimination against a child is wrong. Put Peyton back on the middle school baseball team immediately." Peyton should not have to suffer because his parents are gay. Not only is it wrong, it's illegal. The principal at NCMS and superintendent's office failed to bring justice for Peyton. They failed to assess his baseball skills after we have begged them to do so. This is the easiest way to prove Peyton was discriminated against. They won't let an unbiased coach assess him. WHY??? A test will prove he has been the victim of discrimination.
Continue to call the Newton-Conover City Schools administrative office at
My number is 828-781-9817 Kessiah Young if you have any questions, or like others have done, tell us about your own experiences of discrimination at Newton-Conover City Schools.
Today February 27, 2017 we went in to discuss the investigation determination done by the superintendent's office. Dr. David Stegall, whom we had never met until this meeting, refused to hear our comments about our son and the discrimination of him. He was obviously SOOOO upset about everyone's response to this petition that he could not see straight. He blamed this petition for interfering with the investigation, but we have an email from the assistant superintendent indicating that the investigation was over Friday February 24, 2017. This is just another lie and excuse NCCS has used to justify their failure to properly conduct the investigation. Let us not forget, NO ONE at NCCS ever did an assessment/evaluation to prove our son lacked the skills necessary to be on his last year of middle school baseball team, despite he was on the team last year, and the only returning player who was cut. Stegall said, "NCCS has determined that discrimination did not occur because NOT one person came forward to say anything about you being gay." NCCS does not know how to conduct a discrimination case. We have been asked during this whole investigation if anyone called us derogatory names. Seriously!! What NCCS is saying is that discrimination does not exist unless we heard someone or someone comes forward to say they heard coaches call us a names. This is totally ridiculous, and obviously NCCS does not even know the definition of discrimination. Even calling someone these names does not constitute discrimination. It might indicate that a person is a racist, a homophobe, or a sexist, but it does not constitute discrimination. Wow! Discrimination is much more complex. Anyway, David Stegall was pointing his finger, and talking down to us like we were trash, like we were beneath him, like we weren't parents of a child with a discrimination claim! All I could see was his blatant white heterosexual male privilege as he pointed and talked down to us. I have never seen anyone in a such a capacity conduct themselves like he did. He kept saying "I'm going to talk," but when he talked, his intent was to cast blame on us. I finally said, "Look, you are not my daddy." He responded with, "Well, this is my office!" We explained that we are just trying to make it clear that the investigation was blown from the beginning because of the lies told by the head coach, his admission that others would lie for him, and that breaches of confidentiality resulted in retaliation of us and our children. Stegall said, "The principal did a great job. This is the final resolution of NCCS and it all stops here." I said, "No, the next step is the school board." He then said, "You can petition the school board but they don't have to grant you a hearing." Stephanie and I just looked at each other in disbelief. Stegall just admitted coercion and conspiracy between the superintendent and the school board to block justice for Peyton! Evidently they are not even trying to hear our appeal. At least that is the way Stegall tells it. To be clear, Stegall told us today that our avenues for justice are over at NCCS even though the school board should have been the next level of appeal. I guess as a non-voting member of the school board, he should know right? At that point David Stegall said, "I'm calling the meeting." Stephanie said, "Kessiah Let's go." I let him know this was not over and if we have to go to the NC Board of education or the state legislature we will. He basically kicked us out of his office. I looked at Stephanie and said, "He just kicked us out of his office, an office our tax dollars pay for. Wow!" His treatment of us was demeaning, and I cannot believe this is the man some people were saying was such a good person. He might be showing some of y'all one face, but the one he showed us was pure REDNECK in a suit! NCCS is a good ole' boy club that discriminates against children; their students!!
The following is a list of the school board members. Feel free to email or call them too. This is the next level of the process.
Tim Hayes, Vice-Chair
311 West C Street
Newton, NC 28658
Home - 828-850-9504
Cell - 828-850-9504
Employer: Newton Police Department
Term Began: 12/1/2013
Term Expires: 11/30/2017
81 County Center Street
Newton, NC 28658
Home - 828-464-0875
Cell - 828-302-0174
Term Began: 12/2015
Term Expires: 12/2019
200 West 8th Street
Newton, NC 28658
Cell - 828-291-8506
Employer: Vanguard Furniture
Jeanne Jarrett, Chair
PO Box 372
Conover, NC 28613
Cell - 828-446-6309
Work - 828-465-8219
Employer: Catawba County Finance Office
Term Began: 12/2015
Term Expires: 12/2019
817 Rock Barn Rd NE
Conover, NC 28613
Home - 828-466-2046
Term Began: 12/2015
Term Expires: 12/2019
203 Third Ave NE
Conover, NC 28613
Cell - 828-310-6426
Term Began: 12/01/2013
Term Expire: 11/30/2017
My phone number is 828-781-9817 if anyone has any questions or if you would like to report discrimination against you or your child occurring at NCCS. We have already received a few reports since posting our own son's discrimination involving other NCCS staff. Please know you are not alone. It is all our responsibility as adults to stand up for children and their families.
On February 8, 2017 our son Peyton was cut from the Newton-Conover Middle School (NCMS) baseball team because we, his parents, are gay. Just for the record, Peyton is not gay. He was the only returning player cut from the team. All the other boys, including two boys who were team managers from the 2016 season were allowed to play this year. Since bringing this complaint of discrimination to the attention of NCCS, we and our children have been made the targets of retaliation because of the failures in the investigation and breaches of confidentiality. Even some of the parents have targeted us, including the former assistant coach and some of the dad's he is friends with. One dad actually told me "I think it is ridiculous that you are even here." I told him "I call it advocating for my son." I looked at his facebook and saw this anti-LGBT and pro-Trump rhetoric. It is like they cannot stand that two women who are married are standing up for our son.
The discrimination against Peyton actually began in 2016. Despite the fact he had been an all-star player years prior and has sound baseball skills, Peyton was treated like he didn't exist on this team by the head coach and one of the volunteer assistant coaches who had a son on the team. Peyton was consistently benched and made to be invisible by the coaches in 2016. Even when Peyton would do something good during practice the coaches never praised or encouraged him. Peyton would come home and say, "I don't know why the coach doesn't like me." We didn't want to jump to conclusions, but we felt like he was being discriminated against because of us, his parents, being gay.
This year in 2017 after Peyton was cut we found out that the coach or coaches as the case may be, were telling others in the community that Peyton was cut because "We don't want to deal with Peyton's parents." This is why we continue to go to the practices because now the coach is going to deal with us. On the last day of try-outs Peyton was given the excuse by his head coach, "Peyton, we think we have some 7th graders who are just as good as you, so we are going to let you go and keep them. You should play somewhere else." Again, he was the only boy who played on the 2016 team who was cut. This was his last year of middle school baseball to prepare him for high school. Therefore they not only hurt him this year, but they have impacted his opportunities for next year by discriminating against him. Last year the coach kept 20 kids for one baseball team including two managers. This year he kept 18. Our son was humiliated by this coach. Our son was definitely within the top 7 on the team. The worst thing about the whole experience for him was when he had to walk back to the gym to get his stuff. His team mates, some of whom he has played baseball with since he was 7-8 years old were asking all the boys if they made the team. Peyton told the boys, "No I didn't make the team." The boys did not believe Peyton and thought he was joking. They asked him at least four more times. Finally when it became clear that Peyton was not kidding, the boys were in disbelief that Peyton had been cut. One boy who has played all-star baseball with Peyton when they were younger actually told us to our faces that Peyton should have definitely made the team. At school other boys have come forward to tell Peyton and Peyton's younger brother that it was messed up that he didn't make the team. Peyton was devastated by the coach's actions toward him and while almost in tears he told us that he believes the coach didn't pick him because of the way he looks. He thinks he is "nerdy" and his glasses made him a target for discrimination. We have assured him many times that this has nothing to do with him as a person or athlete but his self-esteem has been destroyed by some grown men who targeted our son because he is not from a "traditional" family structure! This year's team huddles up at the end of each practice, puts hands in and yells, "FAMILY!" I guess our son was not worthy to be part of this family because of his family.
This year the coach kept 18 players in all. He even kept 6th and 7th graders whose baseball skills are not up to the level of Peyton's. A new rule was put in place banning participation of any coach who was not a paid staff of the county from being a coach. These coaches violated this North Carolina state school board rule and allowed the violent assistant coach to participate in day 1 of try-outs. Our son said he was 5-6 feet away from players during try-outs and that kids still thought he was a coach (well because obviously he was). The school denies that he is still a coach, but we have been going to practices and have seen him on the field coaching kids on an individual basis. No other parents are given this access, nor should they. This to me is another indication that the try-out process was affected by his presence and participation. Perhaps new try-outs need to be done. Who knows who else may have been the targets of discrimination?
We filed a complaint immediately with NCCS on February 8th. On February 9th during a meeting with the principal and athletic director, the head coach began his testimony with a blatant lie. He had been violent against me last season, but during the meeting the head coach lied and said that he never got in my face during the 2016 season. His exact words were, "That never happened." I expected him to lie about why Peyton was cut, but I never expected him to lie about his violent behavior toward me especially since there were witnesses present. He displayed some very convincing theatrics during his testimony and wooed the principal who replied with "oohs and aahs" as she heard his lies. Further disturbing was the head coach's statement that he had witnesses that would say his attack of me never happened. This told Stephanie and I that this coach had the capacity to not only lie and be violent, but that he had enough influence with other coaches that they too would conceal his violent behavior and lie for him. This indicated a systemic issue at NCCS. It was discouraging to know beyond any doubt that the head coach was a liar, because he was lying about something he should have just been able to admit and apologize for. From this point on, his credibility was shot, and I did not believe anything else that came out of his mouth.
Last season in 2016, after seeing our child being denied an equal opportunity on the team, we finally decided to ask the head coach what was going on. This was the first and only time any conversation with the us and the coach had ever occurred. The head coach aggressively lunged toward me and stopped six inches from my face and was screaming at the top of his lungs "We want to win games!" He was red in the face and his spit was on mine. He yelled so loudly that he could be heard across the field. He was essentially now bullying the gay parents. He did not treat other moms or dads with this violence and disrespect (not even on the same day as he spoke with them); just us gay parents. Our other child, who was eleven years old at the time, ran to the car when the coach began attacking me to tell his other mom. The coach never apologized for his behavior or actions toward me. The saddest thing about this is that children saw him do this; children who he is supposed to be teaching character to, and how to become good men. The assistant coach (not the assistant coach with the violence issue) didn't flinch at all during this violent episode of his colleague, and backed the head coach in his violence. Other parents were already talking about calling the school board about the coach, and though we considered it, we did not. We feared further retaliation against our son and did not report what the coach had done. Peyton barely played any games at all the entire season. The team lost every game but two the entire season. For us, at this level of baseball, we wanted Peyton to be part of a team because he is an introvert, and baseball has always been his main outlet for peer socialization since he began playing at the age of three. We did not want to jeopardize his chances of playing this year or any other. His younger brother is an extrovert and a socialite, but Peyton really needed an opportunity to develop his relationship skills as a part of the team. In hindsight, we should have handled it differently. Perhaps if we had informed the school of the coach's unethical behavior, maybe he would have stopped targeting our son.
This investigation was botched from the beginning as the athletic director informed the head coach of the details of our complaint before he was ever brought in to give his statement, giving the coach opportunity to make up lies for a defense, which he did. Further, this year's assistant coach who had vital information necessary to get to the truth of this investigation, was approached by the athletic director in private instead of giving an official statement in the initial meeting with us. The athletic director instead brought hearsay to the meeting saying, "I talked with the assistant coach and he corroborated the head coach's account." Logically, the next step to revealing the truth was to have an assessment done of Peyton's baseball skills. When we asked that Peyton be evaluated by someone who was not discriminating against him to show that he was not cut due to his baseball skills or ability, the athletic director of NCCS said he was not qualified to do an assessment. The principal at NCMS said they didn't want to get involved. We even asked the athletic director to come to a practice to see the caliber of players who made the team and the athletic director refused. We did however learn during the meeting about the conflict of interests between the athletic director and the head coach. We inquired about the equality of allowing children to attend one day of try-outs when the try-outs last three days. The head coach shifted blame to the athletic director who admitted that he sent a 6th grader to try-outs on the last day and recommended him to the head coach. A child that attended one day of try-outs made the team. My question is how do coaches do fair measurements when Peyton came to all three days as did other children, while some children were allowed to come to just two or even one day and make the team? Further, these same kids have already missed practices within 2 weeks of the season.
To this day NCCS has failed to evaluate/assess Peyton's skills which is the only way we could definitively prove that our son was discriminated against. We did not fabricate the defense that our son was not good enough to be on the team. The head coach did that. NCCS WILL NOT assess our son and give him equal access and opportunity to be on the baseball team because their entire defense will be shown to be a lie. We have now been to the principal, and now the superintendent's office (of which we are awaiting an answer), and the next step is the school board. Please help us get justice for our son. He deserves to be part of his baseball team in his last year of middle school.
Stephanie added this for clarification:
To put things in further context as far as what we have done for our son thus far, prior to the petition and public outreach... We've given the school every opportunity to evaluate Peyton and get him back on the team and two weeks later we've gotten no resolution whatsoever! We've suggested tryouts be redone so that all the kids can be looked at by objective coaches and/or staff. We've asked the athletic director to assess Peyton and the other players during practice and he told us he wasn't qualified. We have even said that all the kids cut should be put on the team just to ensure no other discrimination occurred but we have been ignored. I requested copies of the measurements used during tryouts of all players, with names omitted of course for privacy reasons, so that we could compare Peyton's measurements to others but no one would give those over either. We brought up the new rule that only allows paid county staff to coach, and the way the assistant coach from last year who is not paid staff was involved in tryouts and continues to be in a coaching role for the middle school and how this intimidated our son and should be a legitimate reason for Peyton's reinstatement or new tryouts for all players. Peyton, who is such an introvert, spoke to the superintendent and looked into his eyes and told him how he has been treated and the effects it's had on him. Jayce gave his account of the coach attacking Kessiah last season which he denies completely and still no attempt from the superintendent to get justice for Peyton! They blew the investigation from the beginning and have allowed the coaches to turn parents and players against us and Peyton. Kessiah was attacked by the assistant coach from last year and another dad who we don't even know, for being at practice all the while insulting our son and his ability. Confidentiality has been breached and Peyton is at risk of bullying and further damage! The evidence is overwhelming and to refuse to do the necessary assessments only proves that there is something to hide! I've never seen such a mess of an investigation!
Just to give a little context, the volunteer assistant coach at NCMS for the 2016 season had been a former coach of our kids at an optimist years before. He was violent with other coaches, parents and kids, and on one of these occasions during a game threatened another coach saying, "I'll whoop your ass!" He was also very homophobic and religious. He had an assumption that we weren't christians because we were gay (He didn't realize I am a minister and actually have a Masters of Divinity from Wake Forest School of Divinity. Both my wife and I, and our two boys are Jesus followers who believe all people regardless of religion or lack thereof should be treated equally).
We pulled our kids out of that optimist and moved them to another optimist under new leadership. This crazy coach called and begged us to let our kids play on his team, saying, "I'm a changed man. I don't act like I used to." We told him we did not want our kids around him. You can imagine our surprise when Peyton came home from his middle school tryouts and said, "You'll never guess who the assistant coach is." We were in shock and disgust that he was now coaching our child again. Peyton said that this man acted like he didn't even know him. To be clear, a man who knew how talented our kid was, and begged us to let him play on his team when we left the optimist, now acted like he didn't know him at all. Unfortunately, the Newton-Conover City Schools (NCCS) system did not properly vet this guy before allowing him to become a volunteer assistant coach. I mean, seriously, countless people in the community know about his violent behavior. It is our belief that this guy who was the volunteer assistant coach in 2016 filled the head coach's mind full of lies about us and Peyton which led him to form negative opinions about our family and discriminate against Peyton. In fact during the 2016 season, this volunteer assistant coach approached my car while I was waiting for Peyton to come out of the gym after an away game and said, "You can talk about me all you want, but you ain't gonna talk about my son." I told him no one was talking about his son. I did tell him I was not happy about how Peyton was being treated. The volunteer assistant coach then said, "If it were up to me, Peyton would be playing, but it ain't up to me." I guess this was his way of saying that the head coach was responsible for the discrimination, but who knows what he said when they were alone??? I just don't know. I mean, this is a man who claimed he had changed, but he was using profanity during an NCMS home game in 2016 to talk about a play his son made calling it or him "damn dumb." His wife tried to redirect him but he responded, "It was damn dumb!" This is the caliber of coaches NCMS allowed to coach our children; our students. To be clear, the head coach, per the policies of NCCS, is responsible for the behavior of himself and all his assistant coaches. Why would a head coach choose a volunteer assistant coach with a reputation and ongoing behavior of being violent and homophobic? It is my belief that they have these things in common. Otherwise, why align yourself with this type of person?
I want to be clear that this petition is not about baseball. Some people who obviously do not know our child but are supporting the perpetrators of our child have falsely assumed that our child is a sub-par baseball player undeserving of being on the team, and that we are upset because he was not good enough resulting in him being cut from the team. We are not "those" parents. Our child is a great baseball player. We don't need any coach to confirm that fact. We know that him being cut from the team had nothing to do with him, his skill, ability, or his character, but instead had everything to do with discrimination done by his coaches. As I've said before, these coaches know that too which is why NCCS would never assess/evaluate him. These coaches did not want to deal with gay parents. This discrimination is illegal and is a federal crime. We would never invest the time and resources required because of just baseball!! That is ridiculous. However, investing this time to address obvious discrimination of our child and to prevent discrimination of other children in the future is well worth the investment.
If NCCS system does not bring justice and reconciliation to this situation, which minimally is putting Peyton back on the team, we will seek justice and relief to the furthest extent available to us. I would advise NCCS staff, teachers, and coaches who were not part of this discrimination to unhitch your future from grown men who bully and discriminate against children. Don't lower yourself by continuing to lie, cover up the truth, and risk ruining your own future. This might result in your ineligibility to teach or coach children in public schools because institutions do not want to employ people who discriminate. People who discriminate against children are liabilities. There is absolutely no valid reason why our child was the only player on last year's team to be cut except for the reason of discrimination. Please help our son get the justice he deserves. No child should be disenfranchised because of their parents.
I leave you with the words of our younger son's football coach. This man and his wife have been great role models for our son and other kids. His name is Jonathan Matthew Elliott, and he has coached championship teams, invests in children, is a great dad, and understands what it means to be a real coach. I highly recommend him for all parents and all kids. He is at St. Stephens Optimist:
Jonathan ElliottHickory, NC
1 day ago
As a coach, our duty is first and foremost to the kids. Not just the team as a whole, but every individual child is our responsibility to develop and mentor. Parents trust coaches with their children with the understanding that the coach will educate their child with the fundamentals of the game but also with principles that reach far beyond any ball field. They expect us to put the safety of the people they love the most above all else. This includes both the physical and mental health of the child. It is obvious to me given the details of this situation that all these sacred bonds between parent and coach have been broken. One of the hardest situations for me to grasp as a coach is that Peyton played on this team last year and then somehow came up short this year. To me, there is only two explanations for this. The first is that this coach is so bad, that even though he had an entire year to develop a player whom he thought talented enough to make the roster originally, that player regressed to a point that he felt the player could no longer make the cut. If that is the case, then the blame clearly lies on the coach. It is hard for me to convey how much I value returning players to my team. From a coaches perspective, these players should be an invaluable asset because they have already spent a year developing under you. This should give them an advantage over all the other kids. If that isn't the case, it is time for the coach to do some serious self reflection. The other explanation is far more heinous. Any coach who cuts a player for discriminatory reasons, should suffer legal action and not be allowed to coach our youth any longer. Children are the future, and when you consider the impact a coach can make on a child's life, it is imperative that these men and women possess the moral compass to help guide our children towards a future that isn't ruled by ignorance and hate.
March 11, 2017 REFLECTION:
The worst thing about this situation with our son Peyton Harrison is knowing that the world is so evil that an innocent child is damaged by the bigotry of grown men. All of these mean-spirited people who have never met Peyton but slander his abilities anger me. He cannot defend himself, but as long as I can defend him I will. When I watched the first 2017 baseball game at Newton-Conover Middle School and saw the state of our team in certain areas, particularly deficiencies that Peyton could have eliminated, I wonder how in the world these coaches can continue on in their ridiculous lies that Peyton was not in the top 18. Yet, I remember...I remember, this is the same school system that denied him an unbiased assessment after we told them of the discrimination Peyton had encountered, and the same school system that listened to our boys give their face to face testimony to the assistant superintendent, and the same school system whose attorney Dean Shatley and the entire School Board violated their own federal anti-discrimination policy by denying Peyton the mandatory hearing he deserved and that was required to meet compliance. NCCS keeps trying to separate sports from their regular school functions saying that sports is a privilege; not a right. They say that a coach can judge students and it's a subjective process. I'm sorry, subjectivity goes out the window when coaches discriminate against children, and when the head coach violently attacks a parent and then lies about the attack saying it never happened. Even the superintendent David Stegall got on Peyton's petition and slandered him. This man has NEVER met my son and certainly does not know anything about his athletic skills, his intellectual ability, his personality, or any other thing. I do find it interesting however, that Mr. Stegall was at the first baseball game on Thursday shaking hands with the good ole' boy coach club, cheering on the team, talking to the players, addressing them by name, yet ignored our son, one of the NCCS students as he pretty much mocked our presence, further humiliating our son and marginalizing him yet again. What I have to say though is there was one kid on the team, who spoke to our son as he sat on the bleachers as a spectator as his team took the field for their last year of middle school ball. Peyton's team-mate from the 2016 baseball team acknowledged him, calling him by name, "Hey Peyton" as he encouraged our son while pointing at him. I don't know this young man, but I am so proud of him and the man he will grow up to be. He is not a follower of the corruption. He walks his own path of righteousness. His parents must be proud of this young man they have raised. I told Peyton, when I saw this boy standing up for Peyton in his own way, "Now that is someone who is going to grow up to be a good man. That is a person worth following, worth knowing." This young man bestowed upon our son dignity and respect. He gave Peyton affirmation that the coaches and some of the parents have encouraged their children to deny Peyton. When Peyton first got cut, kids were speaking out about the injustice of it. Now, 5 weeks later, many of the same kids have abandoned Peyton and enlisted a sort of revisionist history as modeled by their own corrupt coaches. They forget the truth of what they knew when Peyton got cut. They forgot that something was not right. But how can I blame these children? They are following their parents, their coaches, their superintendent, their school board, their principal, and their athletic director. And all of these people have modeled that when discrimination happens, retaliation is the result. This retaliation has left Peyton on the margins, yet I don't despair, I persist. Jesus too was on the margins, abandoned, shamed, slandered, and forgotten. Peyton is not alone, God stands with him along the margins, separated from what should have been his last year of baseball at the middle school because HE IS GOOD ENOUGH! The school board failed to perform their duties and give our son a mandatory hearing to address allegations of unlawful discrimination. What else do we have to say?
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Kessiah Young needs your help with “Newton-Conover City Schools: Coaches Cut 8th-grade Child from Baseball because Parents are Gay. School Board Violated Own Policies to Deny Child a Mandatory Hearing. School Athletics Need Oversight. Current Rubric Allows Coaches to Discriminate.”. Join Kessiah and 1,004 supporters today.