After banning lesbian student from bus, ACLU says Kansas school promises reform

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

LYON COUNTY (KSNT) – After a former principal banned an 8th grader from the school bus for saying she was a lesbian, the North Lyon County School District has promised reform to its discrimination policies, the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday.

The school district told the ACLU of Kansas about the changes it would make after the group threatened to sue the district over what happened to student Izzy Dieker. North Lyon County School District officials said they would provide anti-discrimination training to teachers and staff. They also have offered to provide a more transparent guide to making Title IX complaints in the district and publicize the district’s policies against discrimination.

In addition to annual Title IX training, the ACLU said USD 251 will add lessons to make sure “faculty and staff are welcoming to all, especially members of the LGBTQI+ community.”

“We were glad for the district’s willingness to engage with us to address the discrimination Izzy Dieker experienced because of her sexual orientation,” ACLU of Kansas Legal Director Sharon Brett said. “While we regret that our involvement and Izzy’s successful Title IX complaint were ever necessary, we were glad to learn that the district would take steps to ensure similar discrimination does not occur again.”

While Dieker rode on the school bus in February 2021, 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 security 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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