21-year-old Skye Wyatt has just won an out of court settlement of $77,000, six years after her high school in the Kilgore school district in Texas outed her to her mother.
According to court documents, in 2009 when Wyatt was sixteen years old, her coaches cornered her, forcing her to confess she was gay and then refusing to let her play in the upcoming softball game unless she came out to her mother.
When Wyatt refused, the coaches called her mother, brought her to the field and told her themselves before kicking her off the softball team the following day.
As a result of her public outing, her peers proceeded to bully her throughout her remaining years at the school.
In reaction, Wyatt’s mother Barbara sued the school for violating her daughter’s privacy and trust.
The school eventually settled with an out-of-court settlement of $77,000, as well as agreeing to conduct a thirty-minute anti-discrimination training session for its staff.
Despite this accession, the school continues to say they did nothing wrong and claimed in a statement that “the actions of its employees were in all things lawful.” They added, “No new policies are going to be adopted.”
The school continued, “The plaintiff’s counsel in this case attempted to bully the board into changing its policies by threatening long, expensive and protracted litigation. The Kilgore ISD Board of Trustees has no power to oppose the payment of settlement funds in this case.”
Schools being found liable in such cases is uncommon but not unheard of. For example, in 2000 a court ruled that a gay teenager’s suicide was the fault of Pennsylvanian police officers that caught him having sex and threatened to out him to his family.
Following Wyatt’s victory, the education manager for the national Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Jenny Betz, told Yahoo Shine, “I think it’s an incredible decision, particularly because it shows that a student had the courage to stand up for what she thought was right.”
She added, “The only reason it’s ever OK to disclose to anyone a student’s sexual orientation is if you have that student’s permission to do so. [Otherwise] it’s never OK…it’s not only a disrespectful act, but it can be a dangerous one, too.”