Destin Holmes is filing a federal lawsuit against her school district for the discriminatory treatment she endured as a self-identified lesbian, including being repeatedly referred to as “it” and told by the school’s principal that she was “pathetic fool."
Holmes was made fun of at Magnolia Junior High School in Moss Point, Mississippi for not dressing like other girls, with comments and harassment from students, teachers, and administrators alike leaving her depressed and hopeless.
In one class, a teacher would not allow her to participate in a quiz game, forcing her to sit in the middle of the classroom that was divided into two teams for boys and girls.
"I actually cried during that class," Holmes told The Huffington Post. "And what was running through my head was, 'Why would a professional teacher say that to a student. Why?' I'm still human. I'm not an alien."
Another teacher made her use the boys’ bathroom, while the principal called her a "pathetic fool" and said he didn’t “want a dyke in this school” when she went to him for help, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against the Moss Point school district, school board and superintendent, and Magnolia principal Durand Payton, accusing them of discriminating against Holmes because of her sexuality and violating her right to equal protection.
"Destin was discriminated against from the moment she entered the Moss Point school district in 2011," said Anjali Nair, a staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. "These district officials that are supposed to be protecting the children are not only ignoring the claims, but they are blaming the students for the behavior and they are participating in the discrimination as well."
When Holmes could no longer take the daily bullying, describing pencils and balled-up sheets of paper being thrown at her head all through class, her father and grandmother tried to homeschool her. But she was lonely without her friends from school, and the homeschooling was a financial burden on the family.
The lawsuit seeks to win Holmes’ family monetary damages and to correct the discriminatory practices that Holmes’ school district seems to have deemed acceptable. It had asked the Moss Point School District in March to change its discrimination policies to extend to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students, but says the school district did not comply.
"I want to be treated like all the other kids that are in the school district," Holmes said. "I go to school to get an education, not to be bullied."