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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 7, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 01
Arizona Gay teen threatens lawsuit over bullying
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Arizona Gay teen threatens lawsuit over bullying

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Caleb Laieski, the 15-year-old Gay activist who made headlines last year when he claimed bullying and death threats at his Arizona high school were ignored by teachers, has put Arizona schools on the spot: If you continue to ignore anti-Gay bullying and harassment, Laieski promises, I will file a lawsuit.

According to The Arizona Republic, the Phoenix-area teen e-mailed a letter to more than 5,000 school administrators and elected officials in early December 2010.

"The letters warn school officials that they must institute policies specifically prohibiting Gay harassment by students, teachers and administrators," reports the Republic. "Schools that fail to stop bullying will encounter 'legal ramifications.'"

Caleb says he came out when he was in the eighth grade. The teen now attends Willow Canyon High School in Surprise, Arizona. At age 13, Caleb founded his own Gay advocacy group, Gays and Lesbians United Against Discrimination (GLUAD) and has been working to make sure other kids around the country do not encounter anti-Gay bullying. After enduring bullying himself (Caleb reports being called "fucking faggot"), the Gay teen successfully prompted the Dysart Unified School District to revise its handbook to include language that prohibits bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Caleb says his goal is to not have to sue anybody. Instead, "This is more not to threaten a lawsuit but to put resources out there. But if they don't want to cooperate, there are going to be consequences."

So far, the Republic reports that the letter campaign has generated responses from only a handful of officials, most of whom have not expressed plans to take further steps.

According to the Advocate, the Arizona School Boards Association  whose handbook recommends policies and language to many districts  plans to release policy advisories this month, but a spokeswoman would not say whether anti-Gay bullying was included among the revisions.

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