Friday, November 13, 2015

Suit Charges Fatal Religious Harassment of Christian Student In Mississippi

A civil rights suit filed in a Mississippi federal district court last week claims that the failure of school officials to respond adequately to the severe religious bullying of a 12-year old Christian student led to the student's death.  The complaint (full text) in Malone v. Moss Point School District, (SD MS, filed 11/6/2015), alleges that 7th-grade student Lorel Ka'heim Malone was "bullied, teased, and harassed about his size, clothing, looks, and above all, his religious beliefs and practices." His middle-school classmates bullied him over his handing out of religious crosses, pictures of angels, and his slogan against bullying "be a hero, take a stand." The school responded to complaints about the bullying only by transferring Lorel to another math class, but did nothing to punish the students who were guilty of the bullying. In March 2014, Lorel died as the result of heart problems stemming from a physical attack by the same students who had been bullying him. The suit alleges that school officials' deliberate indifference violated Lorel's rights under the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment. The (Biloxi, Miss.) Sun Herald reported on the lawsuit.