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Vallejo City Unified School District Agrees to Pay $25,000 to Harassed Lesbian Student

In addition to revamping school district anti-discrimination policies, Vallejo City USD has agreed to pay student Rochelle Hamilton $25,000. The agreement was made in response to Ms. Hamilton’s complaints, prior to any lawsuit being filed.

Ms. Hamilton was represented in negotiations by ACLU attorney Elizabeth Gill. The complaints allege that teachers verbally harassed then 16 year old Ms Hamilton over her sexual orientation. The teachers then forced Ms. Hamilton to attend a counseling session for gay students. Attorney Gill said the counselor tried to discourage Ms. Hamilton and other students in the session from being gay.

Additionally, according to a letter dated Jan. 17, 2008, from the ACLU to district Superintendent Mary Bull, staff members made comments to Ms. Hamilton including: “Remember, you’re a girl, not a boy,” and, “You can get HIV/AIDS from being gay and messing with females.”

This entire emotional trauma left Ms. Hamilton too depressed to do homework. She would often cut class because she felt like there was no point since her teachers did not care about her getting an education. She ultimately changed high schools.

Ms. Hamilton, her mother and ACLU attorney Gill are looking forward to the school district following through with the agreement. But, if the district defaults on the legally binding agreement, the ACLU will sue, Gill said.