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Indian River insists it supports gay students

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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Indian River Central School District officials are defending the way their schools support students after a federal gay-bias lawsuit was lodged against the district and several employees Wednesday.


The lawsuit claims that district employees wouldn't allow former student Charles P. Pratt, 20, to start a Gay-Straight Alliance in 2004 and that Superintendent James Kettrick, who was the high school principal at the time, "displayed utter and willful indifference" to the harassment Mr. Pratt said he was subjected to at school.


"The Indian River Central School District has, as a matter of practice and policy, promoted tolerance and inclusiveness in all of its schools," a statement released Thursday reads. "We have support groups to assist students with a variety of difficulties, including, but not limited to religious issues, racial tension, sexual orientation, socio-economic difficulties, and any other type of bias or discrimination."


The release also says district officials think assemblies, after-school discussions, poster campaigns, classroom debates and projects and positive morning announcements "reinforce the idea of tolerance and acceptance."


District officials said they couldn't comment on specific allegations outlined in the document.


Marc H. Reitz, the district's attorney, is reviewing the lawsuit.


Lambda Legal, a national organization that defends the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, said it will seek an injunction on behalf current Indian River High School sophomore Ashley E. Petranchuk, Mr. Pratt's sister, if the district doesn't allow her to start a Gay-Straight Alliance by Wednesday.

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