Maine school failed to protect its student from bullying: MHRC concludes

Maine school failed to protect its student from bullying: MHRC concludes

Brunswick Junior High School has state-of-the-art anti-bullying policies but it failed to protect a boy from bullying by his peers because of his perceived sexual orientation, the Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC) said in its report.

The Commission concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe the student of the Brunswick Junior High School who accused his peers of bullying him for two years and the school district of discriminating against him.

School district officials admitted that the middle school boy was teased by his peers but claimed that the boy was not teased because of his perceived sexual orientation or sex.

But, chief investigator Victoria Ternig, a lawyer assigned by the Human Rights Commission to probe the matter, disagreed with the school district officials.

Ternig wrote in the report, "The facts show that there were several incidents that occurred which could be identified as relating to the Minor's perceived sexual orientation and/or his fitting into stereotypes about males (sex). Looking at the totality of the incidents that occurred, they are pervasive."

She added that the verbal and physical harassment that the boy suffered due to his perceived sexual orientation interfered with his educational environment.

The Commission adopted the recommendations of the investigative report with a 3-2 vote. The investigation was carried out after the middle school boy's mother filed a complaint against the school district.