DESOTO COUNTY, Fla.- Incidents of alleged anti-gay bullying in a school has lead to a federal lawsuit. A 16-year-old girl and a gay rights legal organization are suing the Desoto County School District. They filed the suit Tuesday in Fort Myers federal court.
"Bullying is rampant in the hallways. So many are subjected to it," said Amber Hatcher. "It's something that disgusts me."
Hatcher says she's a victim of bullying at Desoto High. She's filing suit to force the school district to take stronger action to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBTJ) students.
"I am thinking, 'I need to stand up and protect my rights now and for the future, to help other students.' Otherwise, we are living in tyranny," said Hatcher.
Last April, Hatcher says she wanted to observe the National Day of Silence, in honor of students who are bulllied into hiding their sexual orientation. She wore a Day of Silence T-shirt to school and was suspended.
"I was upset. They are taking away our individuality, our rights, with it," Hatcher said.
The gay rights group, Lambda Legal, is filing the suit on behalf of the sophomore.
"We know this is happening in schools all over the country. Nine of 10 LGBT students will experience harassment," said Beth Littrell.
We talked with some Desoto residents about this. One supports Hatcher, whileanother believes homosexuals should stay quiet.
"Desoto needs to open up about this. This is happening everywhere, and it's changing the country as we know it," said Lara Bair.
"As far as I am concerned, this world started with Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," said Randy Phelps. "I have nothiong to do with gays one way or the other."
The school district is not commenting on the lawsuit. The superintendent, Dr. Karyn Gary, said she was not here last year when the Hatcher suspension occurred. Dr. Gary was asked if she is shuffling around administrators because of anti-gay issues in the schools, but she would not confirm that is the motive for the changes.