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NYCLU says Mohawk school did not protect gay teen

By By EMMA WRIGHT

MOHAWK, N.Y. (WKTV) - The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Mohawk Central School District for failing to protect a gay student from harassment, abuse, and threats.

The suit filed by the NYCLU says a 14-year-old student at the Gregory B. Jarvis Junior-Senior High School was repeatedly verbally and physically harassed over the course of two years because he is gay.

The suit says Mohawk Central School District officials were repeatedly made aware of the situation, but didn't investigate the harassment or discipline the harassers.

In a statement on its website, the NYCLU says the harassment started for the student when he was in seventh grade. They say he was harassed by other students because he is gay, dyes his hair, and wears eye makeup. The NYCLU says the fourteen-year-old was regularly pushed and had things thrown at him. At least one teacher allegedly told him he should be ashamed of himself for being gay.

The Mohawk School Superintendent Joyce Caputo says the District has acted responsibly in addressing bullying and harassment and released a statement saying:

"Our District has not and will not knowingly tolerate discrimination or harassment of its students by anyone. I truly believe that the Mohawk Central School District is a safe environment for all students and staff and we are committed to respecting the diversity of our educational community."

The NYCLU says the lawsuit is seeking changes to school policies and practices to address harassment, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

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