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ACLU sues Indiana high school after student’s TikTok about racial slurs

FILE - This Feb. 25, 2020, file photo, shows the icon for TikTok in New York. (AP Photo/File)

PARKER CITY, Ind. (WISH) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on Tuesday filed a lawsuit after a Monroe Central Junior-Senior High School student was suspended for posting a video on TikTok calling out the use of racial slurs at the school.

The student, identified as a 14-year-old white female and referred to as I.B., observed students using racial slurs in text messages, written messages, videos and in-person conversations, according to the lawsuit. I.B. also faced “reoccurring bullying” as a result of her support of the Black Lives Matter movement, the ACLU of Indiana said in a news release.

She made the TikTok video in July on her own time, off of school grounds and using her own phone to share the racist language being used by students.

After returning for the 2020-21 school year, she was retroactively suspended for two days in which she stayed home while the school investigated the bullying. The lawsuit states principal David Rutherford told I.B.’s mother she was being suspended because her video constituted “slander.” The official out-of-school suspension notice said it was not her role to “police other students’ speech.”

The lawsuit says I.B. was verbally bullied before posting the TikTok video. It escalated following the posting of the video and I.B. “felt that her school was refusing to protect her from abuse from her fellow students,” according to the lawsuit. It also alleges that she “became extremely depressed and her grades suffered, and she experienced other emotional harm and damages.”

When I.B. and her family provided videos of students directing expletives and racial slurs at her, school administrators said no disciplinary action could be taken because the speech occurred off school grounds.

I.B. has since transferred to another school district.

Parker City is about 70 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

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