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Southern Oregon School District Settles Over LGBTQ Discrimination

Liv Funk, left, and Hailey Smith filed complaints against the North Bend School District in southern Oregon for anti-LGBTQ harassment and discrimination.

Liv Funk, left, and Hailey Smith filed complaints against the North Bend School District in southern Oregon for anti-LGBTQ harassment and discrimination.

ACLU of Oregon

The North Bend School District will remove a high school principal over discrimination against LGBTQ students.  

The move comes as part of a settlement with the ACLU of Oregon.  

Students accused North Bend High School Principal Bill Lucero of ignoring repeated harassment by teachers, staff and students.

Those harassments, according to investigation files, included LGBTQ students being forced to read the Bible as punishment, a teacher comparing same-sex marriage to “marrying your dog,” and the principal’s own son using a homophobic slur against two students.

Hailey Smith, one of the students represented by the ACLU, said abuse was a regular occurrence at North Bend High School.

“To us, this all seemed normal,” Smith said in a press statement. “I didn’t even really want to go to school anymore because I knew something would happen every day.”

According to the settlement details, Lucero will be “transferred” from his role as principal in the 2018-2019 school year.

“Lucero may be re-assigned to another role within the district for the remainder of his employment,” but not as principal of the high school or middle school, the settlement states.

The district must issue a written apology to Smith and the other complainant in the case, Liv Funk, as well as pay some legal fees. In lieu of damages, Smith and Funk asked the district to make a $1,000 donation to a LGBTQ support group in Coos County.

As part of the deal, the district will also have to develop sensitivity training and policies. It will also have to create a “diversity and inclusion committee.” The Oregon Department of Education will monitor those policy changes for the next five years. 

Had the district not reached a settlement agreement, it would have had to go through a formal hearing with the state May 24.

ACLU officials say they received other complaints from North Bend students after the discrimination became public. Those included a transgender boy barred from playing basketball and students of color subjected to racial slurs.

One black student told the ACLU he was subjected to “name calling by his teammates, including the principal’s son, over his repeated requests that they stop using a modification to the n-word as his nickname.”

District officials and Lucero did not respond to a request for comment.

Funk said the settlement shows North Bend needs change and that students “are not powerless.”

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