The parents of Nigel Shelby, a gay teen who killed himself after being bullied at school, are suing the district for ignoring their child’s pleas for help.
Almost two years ago, 15-year-old Nigel Shelby committed suicide after he no longer could endure being bullied over his sexuality. According to Yahoo! News, the teen repeatedly reported being bullied at his school, Huntsville High School, on social media. At the time, the school’s freshman principal Jo Stafford told the teen that being gay was a choice.
Now, Nigel’s parents are taking legal action against the district, claiming wrongful death. In the suit, the attorneys for Nigel’s family state the school staff violated Title VI, which prohibits intentional discrimination based on race, color, and national origin, and Title IX, which prohibits public schools from ignoring harassment based on gender stereotyping Yahoo! News reports.
The principal allegedly “did not offer any assistance or take any responsibility to make sure that this child was protected and nurtured and loved,” said Civil Rights lawyers Ben Crump and Jasmine Rand. “He was making all kinds of cries for help.”
The lawsuit includes Huntsville City Schools, the Huntsville City Board of Education, the City of Huntsville, and several school officials.
The lawsuit states Stafford told a student “that she didn’t care” and that Nigel “was going through one of his episodes.” The legal document also includes a section detailing how other students would go with Nigel to Stafford’s office to report the physical and verbal bullying Nigel endured. It goes on to say that Stafford told Nigel that if he wanted to make adult decisions about his sexuality, then he should know that he will face adult consequences.
In another incident, Nigel went to Stafford for help, and she allegedly “told him that he only had as much time as the hourglass sand timer would allow,” the suit claims. She “then flipped the timer on her desk over to start the time summarily dismissing and mocking” Nigel’s “desperate cries for help.”