by Dylan Buckley
On July 2015, a mother and her son sued the Brunswick School District for the bullying that her son experienced at Brunswick Junior High School that lasted more than two years. According to the Portland Press Herald, an agreement had finally been reached, and along with the $125,000, Brunswick Junior High School was required to strengthen their anti-bullying policies. The boy was bullied “because of his appearance, lack of athletic ability and a perception that he was gay.”
WMTW News 8 reported that the bullying ranged from name calling to physical and sexual assault, causing the boy’s grades and health to worsen. Although the staff members had taken action on several occasions, the mother alleged that they did not notice the bullying that was happening, causing her to file the suit. While this is a major victory, others are unsure of whether or not this case will have any effect on those in the future.
Amy Sneirson, the Executive Director of the Maine Human Rights Commission, had this to say about the case, “I’m not sure if it sets a precedent for other cases other than the fact that the Maine Human Rights Act will be enforced to protect LGBTQ students, and that the commission believes strongly in requiring schools to do that.”
The school will begin to strengthen their anti-bullying policies by tracking bullying incidents electronically, creating data based on that information to search for trends, and creating a gay-straight alliance at the school. The school will also build upon the anti-bullying policies they have in place, such as holding annual anti-bullying staff training sessions and annual anti-bullying assemblies.
Paul Perzanoski, the superintendent of the Brunswick School District, believed that the case itself and the new anti-bullying policies will help both the school and the community become more informed about bullying and much more likely to recognize and stop it in the future.
“The public interest remedies that Brunswick has agreed to here are steps that we hope can serve as a model for other districts, ways to get at bullying when schools have the right policies in place, but are looking to go further,” said Amy Sneirson.