ACLU threatening lawsuit over Kansas student punished for ‘lesbian’ remark

Local News

Izzy Dieker, the student banned from a North Lyon County school bus. (KSNT Photo/Dan Garrett)

AMERICUS (AP/KSNT) — A civil rights group is threatening to sue a Kansas school district if it doesn’t train employees about LGBTQ rights in response to an eighth-grade student being suspended from riding a school bus after saying, “I’m a lesbian.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas sent a letter Tuesday to the 350-student North Lyon County school district about 60 miles southwest of Topeka. The ACLU is representing student Izzy Dieker, who the school suspended from her bus in January. However, the ACLU’s legal director said the girl didn’t ride again for two weeks because she felt humiliated.

“We urge USD 251 to take action in light of these findings to avoid prolonged litigation. USD 251 must rectify the wrongs Izzy experienced and ensure that its policies, practices, and training will protect all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender nonconforming students in USD 251 from discrimination and harassment.”

ACLU of Kansas Legal Director Sharon Brett

The district superintendent didn’t immediately comment in response to the ACLU’s letter.

While Dieker rode on the school bus, the driver, Kristi Gadino, took issue with her saying the word “lesbian,” according to a Kansas Association of School Boards investigation. Gadino claimed Izzy said a curse word and that’s what caused her to discipline Dieker, but video from the bus showed that wasn’t the case. Instead, it was other students on the bus who were cursing, and the bus driver only corrected Izzy for saying the word “lesbian.”

Former North Lyon County Elementary and Junior High Principal and Athletic Director Corey Wiltz, who decided to suspend Dieker from the bus, was lined up for a new position as the Assistant Principal and Athletic Director for Emporia High School. However, after the incident the Emporia Public Schools board voted to rescind the position offered to Wiltz.

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