After years of legal wrangling, a Texas school district has coughed up a $77,500 settlement to a former student, who was allegedly outed to her mother by a pair of softball coaches.
That's according to the Longview News-Journal (via Opposing Views). It all started back in 2009, when Skye Wyatt was confronted by two coaches and accused of a lesbian relationship. When she denied it, they called her mother and, when she arrived, informed her that her daughter was gay. Ultimately, she was booted from the softball team. Great mentoring, guys!
This story from CultureMap Dallas provides more background. Wyatt's lawyer, Paula Hinton, suggested the trouble started when her client "found out that head softball coach Cassandra Newell was a lesbian and had discussed this with another teammate in a note." (Never put your gossip on paper, kids!) KISD insists they felt obligated to ping Wyatt's mom since she was seeing an 18-year-old, but Hinton is skeptical:
"First of all, the law says that if you believe a child is in danger of sexual abuse, you contact law enforcement, not the parents," Hinton says. "And I seriously doubt that if the coaches found out that a 16-year-old girl was dating an 18-year-old boy they would have made this big of a deal about it. It's just total pretense in my opinion, but that's the story they started telling."
While the district finally ponied up the cash, the board followed up with a pretty snippy statement, claiming the settlement was a "business decision" made by their insurers hoping to avoid an expensive, protracted suit, and the board "believes that the actions of its employees were in all things lawful."
But as part of the settlement, the district will institute training sessions for employees, as well as updating its handbooks to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation more clearly. More importantly, it reminds schools to be very, very careful with what they reveal of their student's personal information.
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