MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Too many gay teenagers are taking their lives to escape being taunted or beat up by bullies at school.
Their stories sparked one survivor to share his own experiences with bullying in a new documentary that’s coming to the Twin Cities.
“My principal said things to me like if you are going to be so openly gay you have to expect this type of stuff to happen,” said Jamie Nabozny.
Nabozny said he felt alone as an openly gay student in a small Wisconsin school district.
At first, the name calling was something he tried to ignore.
“The bullying started off with verbal harassment and when it wasn’t dealt with by the administration, it escalated. My final beating actually put me in the hospital for five days and it required surgery,” said Nabozny.
Nabozny said he suffered a ruptured spleen and internal bruising and bleeding at the hands of his attackers.
“Initially I ran away to get away from what was happening. I came to the Twin Cities here and with the help of a local group, I ended up filing a lawsuit, a federal lawsuit, against my three administrators and my school district for failing to protect me,” Nabozny said.
Outfront Minnesota and Lambda Legal helped him fight his case and eventually win a landmark jury verdict.
“My case set a precedent that says that if school administrators do not do their jobs and protect students, they are personally liable in a court of law for financial damages, ” Nabozny said.
He just wanted to change his school, but ended up pioneering the Safe Schools movement for GLBT students.
Now, The Southern Poverty Law Center has helped Nabozny tell his story. The documentary is called, “Bullied, A Student, A School and A Case That Made History.”
He hopes it helps bullied kids know they have a right to be safe and they are not alone.
“I hear from kids all the time on Facebook, both kids that are being bullied and also bystanders who are standing up for the first time saying I’m not gonna let kids get bullied in my school and if that is happening then everything I went through is worth it,” Nabozny said.
You can see “Bullied” at 7 p.m. next Tuesday night at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
It’s free, but you need to reserve seats.