The mother of a 12-year old New Jersey boy who killed himself shortly after coming out as gay in 2017 has sued a school district, alleging that staff failed to stop homophobic bullying and harassment before he took his own life.
Recently filed in state Superior Court, the lawsuit alleges that Woodruff School students made threats related to Tristan Peterson’s sexual orientation days before he died by suicide. A school employee who saw the incident reported it to administrators, according to NJ.com.
Peterson was a student at Elizabeth Moore School when he came out as gay in 2017. He was a sixth-grade student at the Woodruff School during the 2017-2018 school year.
The lawsuit alleged that Peterson’s mother contacted school officials on multiple instances to report bullying involving her son. Employees at both schools allegedly ignored repeated bullying and harassment incidents involving the teen.
Staff was trained to address harassment and bullying and violated state law in failing to investigate these incidents, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit lists several defendants, including the Upper Deerfield school district, the State of New Jersey, Woodruff School’s principal, and several teachers, counselors, and district anti-bullying officials. They are accused of negligence, violating the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, creating a hostile learning environment, and wrongful death.
School officials declined NJ.com’s request for comment, citing the pending litigation.
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