NEW YORK — A father is accusing NYC Schools of not protecting his 6th grade son after he came out to his classmates as gay.
A lawsuit claims Albert Shanker School for Visual and Performing Arts in Long Island City swept years of bullying and harassment under the rug, leaving the boy traumatized.
“My son came out of the closet to his teachers and classmates shortly after the beginning of sixth grade at IS 126,” said Jason Cinciotto, the boy’s father.
Jason said that after that his son endured two years of bullying for being gay and being adopted by two fathers.
“My son survived a far more trauma than any child any person should face in a lifetime, during the four years that he was in the Foster system,” said Cianciatto. “He’s also a brain cancer survivor.”
The last straw for the Cianciatto family before pulling their son out of New York City Schools was a student passing him a note reading that Jesus didn’t like him and he was going to hell.
His peers isolated not just him, but anyone who befriended his son.
“Their responsibility is to keep kids at school safe period, end of story,” said civil rights attorney David Leibowitz.
The lawsuit alleges that the school not only swept the bullying under the rug, but said to the family that homosexuality shouldn’t be discussed in middle school.
“It’s not an acceptable response to this type of bullying, to just write it off as immature behavior by kids because, for the students on the receiving end of it, it can literally be a matter of life and death,” said Leibowitz.
The NYC Department of Education called these allegations “troubling” and told PIX11 News they have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying and harassment of any kind. They add that they have overhauled their system for reporting bullying and harassment to make children feel safe. Right now, they are reviewing the complaint and investigating the Cianciatto family’s claims.
LGBTQ youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. The goal of this lawsuit, according to Jason Cianciatto, is justice, accountability and a lesson to take kids’ mental health more seriously.