LGBTQ lawsuit with McKinley HS settled

Sep 5, 2017

The New York Civil Liberties Union announced Tuesday morning the settlement of a federal lawsuit against the Buffalo City School District for what it charged was "the open and systematic discrimination of LGBTQ students at McKinley High School."

The NYCLU said the school district has agreed to all of its demands, including maintaining a Gay-Straight Alliance after-school club, anti-discrimination training for staff and students, two years reporting of LGBTQ discrimination to the NYCLU and prominent display of the district's anti-discrimination policy at McKinley.

McKinley High School Junior Byshop Elliot in May.
Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

“I’m really looking forward to a new, more stable and supportive school environment where we can feel comfortable,” said Byshop Elliott, the plaintiff in the case and a senior at McKinley. “This just shows that, if you set your mind to it, all things are possible.”

The suit was filed in May. Within days, Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash and School Board President Barbara Seals-Nevergold issued a statement stating the district had taken measures to address the grievances in the lawsuit. The district said Principal Crystal Boling-Barton was placed on leave, McKinley seniors were informed they could attend prom with the guest of their choice and school staff had been directed to help students form a Gay-Straight Alliance as soon as possible.

The NYCLU lawsuit noted that in past years, students at McKinley were told that "couples" prom tickets were only available to different-sex couples.

“This settlement should serve as a warning to other districts throughout the state that curtailing LGBTQ students’ rights will not be tolerated,” said NYCLU Staff Attorney Bobby Hodgson, lead counsel in the case. “While we are glad that all of our demands are met under this settlement, we recognize that we never should have had to file this case in the first place.”