TYLER, TX - The Texas Civil Rights Project has filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Tyler on behalf of Barbara Wyatt against two Kilgore High School teachers and the Kilgore Independent School District. The suit alleges they wrongly revealed a student’s sexual orientation to her parent. The suit seeks compensatory damages and an injunction to stop Kilgore faculty from compromising students’ privacy and subjecting them to the unnecessary risk of harassment and trauma by disclosing their sexual orientation without consent.
On March 2, 2009, Barbara Wyatt’s daughter arrived for afternoon softball practice. As soon as she arrived, her two softball coaches ordered her into the locker room alone and cornered her. Her coaches threatened her and forbade her from participating in softball until she told her mother that she was gay. Later that day, the coaches confronted Barbara Wyatt personally and bluntly told her that her daughter was a lesbian. This outrageous and unjustified violation of a young student’s privacy caused her severe emotional and mental anguish, social ostracism, and irreparably damaged her trust and respect in adult authority.
Discrimination, bullying and the infliction of emotional trauma against students who are gay or believed to be gay is a nationally recognized problem which often ends in tragedy. The coaches’ actions and the school district’s utter failure to train its staff or remedy the damage this incident caused, exacerbate this problem and set a terribly harmful example to students, teachers and parents.
According to the lawsuit, the coaches’ actions and school district’s policy of disclosing students’ sexual orientation violate the constitutional privacy rights of KISD students. Although the damage caused here cannot be undone, Barbara Wyatt said, “I hope that through sharing my daughter’s story and bringing this lawsuit, we can make clear to educators the importance of protecting students’ privacy and the devastation that a child can suffer when these rights are violated.”
The Texas Civil Rights Project is a nonprofit foundation that promotes racial, social, and economic justice in Texas through education and litigation