Coming out can be one of the toughest and most unnerving processes for someone who is LGBT to go through. The fear of not knowing how others will react is very real, particularly for many how their family or friends might take the news. Every LGBT person must be allowed to undergo this journey whenever they feel they are ready to do so.
Imagine what a former student of Kilgore school district, Skye Wyatt, felt the moment her school coaches outed her as gay to her mother during only her junior year in high school.
Wyatt has now won a federal lawsuit this week against her school district after having her privacy rights breached by her high school coaches.
Read more about the story below the jump. Reported by the Advocate Magazine and the Longview News-Journal, during her junior year in high school, Wyatt's two softball coaches confronted her in the locker rooms about possibly being in a relationship with another girl. Wyatt, who was only 16 at the time, denied any relationship despite being in one. The coaches then threatened Wyatt to sue her for slander, and called her mother to tell her about her daughter's relationship. Wyatt's mother arrived at the school, and was told by the coaches that her daughter was a lesbian. Wyatt filed a lawsuit stating that her school coaches outing her had violated her right to privacy under the Texas constitution, Texas common law, as well as the U.S. Constitution.
The Kilgore school district agreed to pay $77,500, but maintained that the coaches had done absolutely nothing wrong.
“The Kilgore ISD board believes that the actions of its employees were in all things lawful,” the school district's statement reads, “The settlement is much less expensive than what the insurance carrier would spend in this case in attorney fees and costs through trial, appeal by the plaintiff to the Fifth Circuit and appeal by the plaintiff to the United States Supreme Court.”
Also, as part of the settlement, the school administrators agreed on an annual 30-minute teacher training session on privacy and discrimination to protect LGBT students.
“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 agreement puts into place important protections for students and their privacy rights, and the school district's official policy will prohibit exclusion by sexual orientation.”
The Texas Civil Rights Project helped Wyatt win her case after nearly four long years.
“We've got the first federal court in the area finding that information related to sexual orientation is covered by constitutional privacy rights, so that's a good thing,” said TCRP Legal Director, Wayne Krause Yang. “We've got widespread information out there in the media and in the public that this sort of outing needs to be avoided, [and]policies to ensure this won't happen again.”