BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A high school principal is facing allegations of discrimination involving students in the LGBTQ community.
A civil liberties group filed a lawsuit claiming the Buffalo Public Schools are doing nothing to stop it.
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) says students at McKinley High School have been trying to set up a gay-straight alliance for years, but have been blocked.
They claim the school has a history of homophobic policies.
“It’s just really sad that you know, in 2017, it’s just sad that we are still facing these issues nowadays,” McKinley High School student Byshop Elliott said. “It’s definitely a tear-jerker.”
NYCLU Staff Attorney Bobby Hodgdon said “It is written into the Equal Access Act that once you allow a club to form you cannot turn around and prohibit another club from forming based on its politics, its viewpoint, its subject matter.”
On Friday, News 4 confirmed that McKinley Vocational High School Principal Crystal Boling-Barton was placed on administrative leave.
Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash and Board President Dr. Barbara Seals-Nevergold released a statement that day:
“The District has taken active measures to address the grievances contained in the NYCLU complaint regarding McKinley High School. The District always has and will continue to uphold the democratic principles of active citizenship, personal integrity, civility, and respect for others. Within that greater framework, the District has policy in place to ensure that students of the LGBTQ community are included and accepted in school activities throughout the District.
McKinley High School senior students were informed today, through acting school administrators and the superintendent’s student support staff, that they may attend next week’s prom with their guest of choice, under the age of 21, with NYS identification.
In addition, the superintendent has directed staff to assist students in the formation of a Gay Straight Alliance within the school as soon as possible.”
The NYCLU called the district’s actions “a welcome first step”.
“We are pleased that the district has begun the process of protecting the rights of LGBTQ students at McKinley High School, and we are thrilled all McKinley students will be welcome at prom,” NYCLU executive director Donna Liebermann said Friday.
“Although the GSA has not yet begun meeting, and our case remains active, we are optimistic that the district will work with us to address the issues raised in the case,” Liebermann said. “The discouragement, inaction and homophobia that McKinley students have endured must end- all schools and districts around New York must recognize that protecting LGBTQ students is not optional.”