Deratany says GLSEN guidelines inform New York case

February 16, 2010 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Chicago attorney Jay Paul Deratany has told press at Gnosis Arts Multimedia in metro New York that safe education standards as set forth in guidelines in a briefing released by Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN)inform the New York case he is advising on a pro bono basis.

Rhonda Mangus was placed in the state's data base of offenders on charges of "educational negelct" when she removed her son Michael from North Tonawanda High School in 2005. The youth had been bullied and received a written death threat regarding his gay identity. This winter Mangus failed to have the charge remanded in the Appellate division of the Supreme Court of the state of New York. Also not addressed has been her insistence that Michael was not released back to school attendance by his two physicians, making the charge of neglect unfounded.

GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) has been quoted in the Mohawk School district case in which the United States Department of Justice has become involved. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a federal lawsuit against the Mohawk Central School District in Herkimer County, Upstate New York. The school district has been charged with failing to ensure the safety of a student, a minor, one Jacob B, a gay teen.

The parallels to the Mangus case are astonishing: Upstate New York (Mangus was at North Tonawanda High in Niagara County); gay teen males, both supposedly "provoked" students by wearing eyeliner; both received death threats. Yet while the wheels of justice seem to be turning in favor of Jacob, Michael's mother remains in the data base of offenders, charged for keeping her son out of the school in which his life had been threatened.

High profile Chicago attorney Jay Paul Deratany has said to press at the Windy Times that schools "have a duty" to ensure the safety of gay teens.

Certainly, GLSEN has charged in the case of Jacob B that:

"Schools have a legal obligation to make sure their students have access to an education, and ignoring or encouraging anti-gay behavior deprives students of their right to an education."

In a GLSEN press release on the Mohawk story, it was asserted that, "Homophobic comments by teachers are, sadly, quite common. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of LGBT students said they had heard such remarks from teachers or other school staff, according to GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey on the experiences of LGBT students in school."

The brief also noted a lack of safe schools policies and resources for GLBT youth, including gay-straight alliance clubs (GSAs). The GLSEN release also observed that a number of similar cases nationwide have been settled in favor of harassed GLBT youth. (Source: GLSEN blog/press)

Michael Mangus had attempted to start a gay-straight alliance club at age 14, and was rebuffed and even mocked.