Upstate school district ‘motion to dismiss’ LGBTQ essay lawsuit


SPARTANBURG COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – An Upstate school district wants to dismiss a federal lawsuit over a student’s LGBTQ essay. 

A parent claims Spartanburg County School District Six, Anderson Mill Elementary, and its principal Elizabeth Foster violated the First Amendment rights of a fourth grader.

According to the lawsuit, the 10-year-old was assigned to write a paper on any topic addressed “to society.”

The lawsuit says the child, whose grandfather is a homosexual, submitted a paper “to help society learn to treat members of the LGBTQ community equally.”

“There’s no sexual undertone to the essay,” said Eric Poston, the attorney representing the parent and student. “It simply states there’s a problem with how society treats transgender people and about treating them equally.”

The lawsuit claims Principal Foster found the essay “inappropriate” and told the student to write another essay on bullying.

Read the plaintiffs’ Complaint

In court documents filed Tuesday, the school district denied the allegations and filed a ‘motion to dismiss and strike.’ 

“It’s sort of throwing a bunch of darts at a dart board and seeing what sticks,” Poston said. 

The district claims the school is “not a separate legal entity” to be sued in the first place. 

Attorneys say Principal Foster is “entitled to qualified immunity,” which protects “government officials performing discretionary functions from civil liability,” and that the “plaintiffs made no showing that they will suffer irreparable harm without an injunction.”

The motion also says “the first amendment rights of students in public schools are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings.” 

Read the Motion to Dismiss and Strike

“It was highly predictable,” Poston said of the district’s motion. “It’s sort of a delay strategy I believe – the inevitable settlement negotiations that will be upcoming.”

7News reached out to the school district in light of the attorney’s comments. 

The district’s spokesperson says they feel the motion speaks for itself and they look forward to the case moving through the federal court system. 

Poston said the student is still attending Anderson Mill Elementary school.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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