MOHAWK, N.Y. – The bullying by classmates and taunts of "homo" only got worse after Jacob began dyeing his hair and wearing eyeliner in eighth grade. One student scrawled "I hope you die" on his shoe, he said; another drew a pocket knife on him.
Jacob's grades dropped, and he missed school from fear. His father tried repeatedly to get school officials in their working-class village in upstate New York to help protect his son from harassment. The response by the Mohawk Central School District, according to a federal lawsuit, was to do "virtually nothing."
"Everything was bad," Jacob — who is identified as "J.L." in the lawsuit and didn't want to draw attention to his new school by having his last name used in this story — said this week. "I hyperventilated when I left the school ... and I didn't want to come back the next day, or ever."
The 15-year-old might soon get a measure of satisfaction. The lawsuit filed by Jacob and his father against the school district with the New York Civil Liberties Union could be close to settlement, according to both sides.
The negotiations come as the U.S. Department of Justice seeks to intervene in the case, citing the "important issues" it raises in enforcing federal civil rights laws.
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