A former Kenosha public schools student says he was bullied and harassed in school for being gay since third grade, and that administrators were "deliberately indifferent" to the hostile environment that forced him to drop out in 11th grade.
Guadalupe Paredes makes the claims in a federal civil rights lawsuit that names Kenosha Unified School District and five administrators as defendants and chronicles a sad struggle to succeed in school. The suit says he is under 20.
His lawsuit says that in fifth grade Paredes was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment over the abuse he suffered at school. The suit says his assistant principal at Edward Bain School of Language and Art changed his demeanor when Paredes first explained in fourth grade that he liked boys. He says the principal then told him to bring all concerns to him because the assistant principal, Ron Sandoval, "did not feel comfortable with Plaintiff's kind."
The suit says the boy often vomited on Sunday nights, dreading his return to school. When his mother spoke with administrators, they suggested Paredes avoid the harassers as best he could. He then started hiding from and sometimes missing classes to avoid contact. He was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment.
He moved to a different school for sixth grade, but so did many of the harassers. One told him in the restroom that he should kill himself, and repeated the comment on Paredes' Facebook page. The suit says his mother complained to school officials, but there is no written record of any investigation. Conditions did improve through sixth grade.
Through other grades and schools, Paredes continued to be enrolled with the worst harasser, and Paredes continued being called slurs for gays and told he should kill himself. His mother continued raising concerns with school officials, one of whom told her Paredes brought the trouble onto himself by "acting gay and telling other students he was gay."
At one point, Harborside school officials decided Pareles and his chief antagonist should work together on a poster project or face a three-day suspension. Pareles couldn't face spending time alone with the other student and chose to be suspended.
By the time Pareles began Reuther Central High, he no longer reported harassment and bullying "because he believed it was hopeless." His grades declined, and shortly after an Intervention Accommodation Plan was imposed, he was hospitalized.
For his junior year, Paredes transferred to Tremper High School, but "mental health issues prevented him from being successful," and he stopped attending before the end of the first semester in 2015.
The lawsuit brings claims under Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in schools that receive federal funding. The suit claims the harassment prevented Paredes from receiving the educational opportunities offered by the district and under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.