Long-haired boy subjected to harassment at school -- by his TEACHERS ?!
I just read another news story about a young boy who was harassed at school because he had long hair. Unfortunately, in this case it is allegedly his teachers who were responsible for the harassment. According to the news story at Cincinnati.com the teachers would attempt to humiliate him by putting his hair in ponytails, parading him in front of other classes with this hairstyle, and calling him by "feminized versions of his name."
WOW. Teachers using femininity as an insult? Trying to mock and put down a young boy by calling him a girl? *SIGH* Clearly critical pedagogy and feminist approaches to teaching still have a long way to go to prepare teachers to create safe and equitable learning environments. Fortunately, this child has parents who are willing to take on the school and have filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, that accuses school officials of violating the boy's constitutional rights and failing to protect him against "offensive gender-based harassment." They are seeking unspecified damages.
My guess is that they are using Title IX to argue their case, which I wrote more about in my book: Gender, bullying, and harassment: Strategies to end sexism and homophobia in schools. In cases of student harassment such as this one, there are four main criteria that must be met under the application of Title IX:
1) School officials must have actual knowledge of the harassment
2) School officials demonstrate deliberate indifference to harassment or take actions that are clearly unreasonable
3) School officials have substantial control over both the harasser and the context in which the known harassment occurs
4) The harassment is severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victim(s) of access to the educational opportunities of benefits provided by the school. (Davis v. Monroe, 1999)
These precendents were set by a landmark Supreme Court decision that applied Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments to cases of student-on-student sexual harassment. Although Title IX is most widely known for its impact in reducing disparities between men and women in athletics participation at the collegiate level, it was written to protect individuals from being denied educational benefits on the basis of sex (Roth, 1994, p. 472). This Supreme Court decision set the precedent for using Title IX to defend students from harassment based on sex, but in this case the defendant was a school board employee (Roth, 1994).
I'll keep you all updated as I learn more about this case.