Gay teen claims discrimination at schoolPosted: Updated:
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A Valley teen says he's been getting death threats because he's gay. Now, he wants his school district to do something about it.
"Well, you basically wake up in the morning and you know you're going to be teased, harassed," said Caleb Laieski, a 15-year-old from Surprise.
The last few years haven't been easy for him, ever since he came out of the closet in eighth grade.
"High school -- it got really bad, I started to receive death threats in school, out of school," he said.
During his freshman year at Willow Canyon High School, Laieski says on days it got really bad he had no choice but to leave campus altogether.
"I walked home, I just walked out those gates, I said, 'Too bad, I'm not being protected by administration, and I'm being treated poorly by students, and I have to do what's safe for myself.'"
Laieski said he reported the harassment to all levels of the administration from the assistant principal all the way up to Dysart Unified School District officials. But he claims little action was taken.
"All they did was talk with the student, and I think they should have at least showed they mean business on the matter," Laieski said. "If nothing else, even a lunch detention to say that the administration is really serious about the matter."
Laieski decided to take matters into his own hands, convincing the ACLU of Arizona to take up his case, and threatening to file a lawsuit against the school district.
Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of ACLU of Arizona, confirmed that the group has intervened on Laieski's behalf by sending a letter to the school district, but said at this point litigation is unlikely.
Officials from the Dysart Unified School District declined to speak specifically on Laieski’s case because of privacy policies. But in a prepared statement, they said: "The Dysart Unified School District has policies in place that prohibit illegal discrimination and harassment as well as bullying... The implementation of the policies and practices are proven to be prompt and effective when utilized by a student."
Despite that, Laieski says nobody’s gotten in trouble for what he claims they’ve done to him.
"I really want to see they mean business for all LGBT students," he said.
Specifically, he wants the district to make a change in their student handbook. The handbook currently defines hate speech as "any communication that manifests malice towards others based on their race, gender or identity." Laieski wants that definition to be amended to include sexual orientation.
Amidst his frustration over the bullying and harassment, Laieski formed his own grassroots organization: Gays and Lesbians United Against Discrimination (http://gluad.org).
He's also working with the ACLU to help pass a federal law known as the Student Non-discrimination Act of 2010.