Put the Town on Notice: School District Liability and LGBT Bullying Notification Laws

Congress could mitigate the problem of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) student bullying by requiring that teachers and school officials report all bullying incidents to their school district administrators. Many school districts are not aware of the prevalence of LGBT bullying and the extent to which each school protects, or fails to protect, its LGBT students compared to other harassed students. LGBT students often encounter difficulty demonstrating that their school district has a policy or custom of deliberate indifference toward their equal treatment when a school does not equally protect an LGBT student from peer-to-peer bullying because of the student’s LGBT status. This Note proposes a federal notification law requiring teachers and school officials to report incidents of bullying to school district administrators. This requirement would enable LGBT students and their allies to pressure school districts for equal protection and to litigate if unequal treatment persists. A notification law would provide a basis for such action because it would create direct evidence that the school district was aware of the problem-an essential element in an equal protection cause of action.