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GELC Files Gender Discrimination Suit Against NYC Department of Education


Gender Equality Law Center

540 President Street, 3rd Floor

Brooklyn, NY 11215

(347) 844-9003

Brooklyn, NY, Thursday, September 7, 2017 – The Gender Equality Law Center (GELC) filed a lawsuit against the NYC Department of Education for failing to provide a safe and affirming school environment for a five year-old named Leo Davis. Leo identifies as male but expresses himself in ways more typically associated with being a girl, i.e. he likes to wear dresses and bright pink clothes, plays with dolls and loves anything with glitter.

Filed under the NYC Human Rights Law, the lawsuit alleges that the Board of Education viewed Leo’s parents with suspicion and bias because of Leo’s gender expression and acted on deep-seeded stereotypes erroneously based in the belief that children who do not conform to binary gender norms are at best inadequate, and at worse, disturbed. Unfounded suspicions about what was going on in the Super/Davis home led the Principal of a well-known Brooklyn elementary school to call in a report of child abuse based on an innocent comment made by Leo about his genitals; charges that were later deemed unfounded. As GELC founder Allegra Fishel stated in the New York Times, “[t]he principal reported them because she believed that this family was somehow aberrant.” Leo’s case reveals how pernicious gender stereotypes can be and the destruction that can follow actions taken based on these stereotypes.

GELC is a Brooklyn, New York based non-profit law and advocacy center. GELC advances laws and policies that break down barriers created by gender bias and promotes gender equality in all spheres of public and private life. We believe in equal opportunity regardless of gender, gender identity, gender expression and/or sexual orientation and offer pro bono legal services to low-income women, LGBTQ and gender non-confirming individuals to advance this.



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