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School district that outed lesbian student to her mom reluctantly agrees to settle

Posted Feb 26, 2014 6:50 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A school district in Texas had agreed to pay $77,500 to settle a suit by a former student who says her high school softball coaches outed her as a lesbian to her mother.

The Kilgore Independent School District agreed last Friday to settle the case with former student Skye Wyatt, who is now 21 years old, the Longview, Texas, News-Journal, the Kilgore News Herald and the Dallas Observer report.

Skye Wyatt was 16 in March 2009 when coaches with the Kilgore Independent School District pulled her aside and confronted her over her relationship with another girl, according to the suit. The coaches then called Wyatt’s mother, asked her to meet them and, when she arrived, told her Wyatt’s sexual orientation.

Trial on remaining claims in the suit was scheduled to begin March 3. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed a third claim in the suit last year, finding the coaches had qualified immunity.

A press release by the school district indicated displeasure with the settlement. “The Kilgore ISD Board of Trustees has no power to oppose the payment of settlement funds in this case, that matter being solely within the discretion of the insurance carrier,” the press release said. “It is a business decision of the insurance company.”

The press release also accused the plaintiff’s counsel of trying to “bully the board into changing its policies” by threatening protracted litigation. The school board says it refused because it believed its existing policies were “more than adequate.”

One of Wyatt’s lawyers, Jennifer Doan, had a different view of the settlement. She said in a statement that the agreement will put important privacy protections in place, and official school policy will prevent exclusion based on sexual orientation. The school also agreed to schedule a 30-minute training session for its employees on discrimination policies.

Hat tip to @jostonjustice.

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