AMERICUS, Kan. (KSNT) – Local school district USD 251 banned a 13-year-old girl from riding the bus after saying she’s gay in front of other students.
Izzy Dieker is an eighth grader at Americus School in the North Lyon County District.
Every day Dieker rides the bus to school for 30 minutes from her small town. One day, in particular, has put her at the center of controversy and a cry for change from some teachers who decided to remain unnamed, all for saying ‘I’m a lesbian’.
The bus driver heard her say this and wrote her up for inappropriate language.
“Once I got home my dad told me he got a call from the school that I was kicked off for saying ‘I’m a lesbian’,” said Dieker.
Her parents were told that she also did not listen to the bus driver’s orders. “I am openly a lesbian and my whole class knows it,” said Dieker.
The district superintendent said he can’t discuss the details of the case.
The girl’s stepmother, Tasha Cooper, said she has struggled to get a response from administration.
“She’s 13 years old and these are adults acting like this towards her,” said Cooper. “We’ve had talks about other students calling her names and I expect that because they’re repeating what their parents say. But for the staff, the people that I trust her with, I was angry.”
For Cooper and her husband, it’s not just about the lack of answers from her principal but the lack of diversity awareness and she wonders why they would allow a bus driver to influence students to think the word lesbian is a vulgar one.
“It made me upset to think that people go through this everyday and also that kids are growing up thinking that it’s a horrible thing and they shouldn’t be talking about it at all when honestly it should be the other way around,” said Dieker.
Since the situation erupted, Dieker has found support from her classmates and a few teachers too, one even distributing rainbow pins for faculty and students to wear in solidarity.
“I really just wanted to let Izzy know that there are people that absolutely support her,” said Michael Lanzrath, a teacher in the district. “Our job as educators is to make sure that all our kids are taken care of. To us, all means all.”
Lanzrath is a member of the LGBT community himself and knows first hand how important support can be for someone at her age. He said he wishes he had support as he navigated growing up and feeling different from his classmates.