Texas School District Pays $77K to Former Student Who Claimed Softball Coaches Outed Her to Mom
A Texas woman received a $77,500 settlement in a lawsuit against the Kilgore Independent School District after claiming that her softball coaches violated her privacy by revealing her sexual orientation to her mother.
Skye Wyatt, now 21, alleged in her lawsuit that the Kilgore ISD violated her constitutional right to privacy, as well as the Texas Constitution and Texas law, according to the Longview News-Journal.
Wyatt claimed that when she was 16, her softball coaches, Rhonda Fletcher and Cassandra Newell, locked her in the locker room and accused her of having a relationship with another girl. Wyatt was indeed dating the girl whom the coaches named, but she denied the accusation. The coaches threatened her, telling her she wouldn’t be allowed to play and that they were going to out her to her mother.
The coaches then called Barbara Wyatt, the girl’s mother, and asked her to meet them. When she did, they revealed that her daughter was gay. The next day, the coaches kicked Wyatt off the team.
In a sworn statement from 2011, Wyatt wrote that the coaches’ actions “totally destroyed” her relationship with her mother for “almost two years.”
“It was incredibly difficult for me to go through all of the pain of being outed and kicked off the softball team without feeling close to my mom,” Wyatt wrote. She also revealed that her school performance dropped, she suffered insomnia, started to cut herself, and thought about committing suicide.
Finally, Wyatt was able to have her day in (or out of) court. The settlement was reached less than two weeks before the scheduled trial. In addition to the monetary damages paid to Wyatt, the school district will be required to schedule training sessions with its employees on discrimination policy, including sexual orientation and privacy.
“The great thing that Skye did in bringing this lawsuit was that it was not just for her, it was for others,” said Jennifer Doan, Wyatt's attorney.
The school district maintains that its employees did nothing wrong.
“The Kilgore ISD board believes that the actions of its employees were in all things lawful," the school said in a statement. "No new policies are going to be adopted."
“It was a long, hard fight, but I’m really glad that the school district agreed to make a positive change that will prevent this from happening again,” said Wayne Krause Yang, legal director of the Texas Civil Rights Project in a statement. “It’s not just a win for our client and her family, but for the school district, all of its students, and their parents. This will benefit everybody.”