The mother of an openly gay 17-year-old high school student from Indianapolis says she stands by her decision to arm her son with a stun gun so he could defend himself against relentless bullying from classmates.
"I do not promote violence — not at all — but what is a parent to do when she has done everything that she felt she was supposed to do ... at the school?" Chelisa Grimes told CNN yesterday.
Darnell "Dynasty" Young, who came out in his freshman year, says he has been the victim of anti-gay bullying since before he was open about his sexuality. He claims classmates would regularly call him names and throw rocks and other objects at him, both on school grounds and off. "All day I'd be on my guard," he told the Indy Star. "It never got better. It always got worse."
According to his mother, the harassment affected his behavior at school and at home. His grades had dropped from A's to F's, and he was increasingly argumentative. Young even left home for a time before returning to try and start anew.
The bullying, however, refused to abate, and Young says his complaints to the school went unheeded. "If you wear female apparel, then kids are kids and they're going to say whatever it is that they want to say," said Arsenal Tech High School principal Larry Yarrell.
Despite the victim-blaming language, Yarrell insists he isn't blaming Young for the other students' anti-gay attitude. "They're just trying to make his transition over here as easy as they possibly can," Yarrell said of the staff's suggestion to Young that he "tone it down as much as possible" so "people won't have as much to say."
Feeling stonewalled by the administration, Grimes decided to take matters into her own hands. "If they weren't going to protect him," she told the Star, "I'll protect him."
She sent Young to school with a stun gun, knowing full well it was not allowed.
After a few weeks of carrying it around, Young was approached by six students who hurled epithets at him and made phyiscal threats. He brandished the stun gun and triggered it hoping it would scare off his assailants. It worked, but school police soon arrived to arrest him. The stun gun was discovered, and Young was suspended.
He now faces the possibility of expulsion. A hearing took place last week, but a decision has yet to be announced.
Meanwhile, the bullies who surrounded Young have not been disciplined. Yarrell said he "spent hours trying to figure out and find out who the perpetrators were" but witnesses, who confirmed Young's version of events, refused to identify them.
"They're not willing to, quote, 'rat out' the other students," said attorney Karen Celestino-Horseman. "That's pretty common. They don't want to become the subject of these kids' bad attention."
[screengrab via Indy Star]