Mom of transgender student sues NJ school after teen suicide
⚫ Teen student died in the fall of 2022 after suicide
⚫ The student was persistently bullied for coming out as transgender, lawsuit says
⚫ Teen’s mother is suing the school and town
MANVILLE — Myles Fitzpatrick would have graduated Manville High School in June.
Instead, the transgender teenager took his own life in November, after what his mother said was intense bullying on the basis of his gender identity.
Now, Fitzpatrick’s family has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the school, the board of education and the borough of Manville. MyCentralJersey was first to report about this lawsuit.
According to the civil complaint, school officials ignored a "hostile" environment and failed to intervene as the teen was physically bullied and showed signs of self-harm in school.
The Somerset County Office of Education was also named as a defendant, filed on May 2 in Somerset County Superior Court by Myles’ mother, Danielle Warshefski.
Lawsuit says NJ teen transitioned during remote learning, returned to bullying
Fitzpatrick entered Manville High School as a student in the 2018-2019 year.
Everyone switched to remote instruction during the 2020-2021 year, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
That same year, Fitzpatrick came out as transgender and began transitioning to being a male, taking on the first name Myles, according to the complaint.
The following school year, instruction switched back to hybrid and it was then that Fitzpatrick became the target of severe harassment, intimidation and bullying by fellow students due to his gender identity, according to the lawsuit.
Among the interactions, according to the suit, the teen was pushed into lockers, had items thrown at him, was kicked and had his hair pulled.
The lawsuit also said other students made “constant comments and disparaging remarks during the school day, including but not limited to, the use of certain slurs, including “f****t” referring to him as “she” as a form of mockery and other derogatory references, including that he would never be a male.
On several occasions, harassment, bullying and discrimination was carried out in the presence of teachers and/or staff members without intervention, according to the lawsuit.
Fitzpatrick experienced severe depression and anxiety, engaged in acts of self-mutilation and/or self-harm and attempted suicide, the complaint says.
Warshefski said in the complaint that she made several complaints to school district personnel, but “nothing sufficient was done to address the complaints,” including “an apparent lack of intervention or enforcement” of district or state policies and procedures.
In 2021, Fitzpatrick had asked and was permitted to use a restroom in the faculty lounge or the nurse’s office to go to the bathroom and change for gym due to his transitioning and because he was being bullied in the locker room, the complaint said.
However, by 2022, the school took away that “privilege and/or accommodation without explanation,” the complaint said.
Warshefski said in her lawsuit that she continued to complain about the bullying and lack of intervention, and at some point asked whether Fitzpatrick could receive some “accommodation through virtual and/or homeschooling,” but the school did not offer any such accommodations.
On or about Nov. 7, 2022, Fitzpatrick committed suicide.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on grounds of gender ID discrimination, negligence, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and wrongful death.
A request for comment from the Manville Board of Education was not immediately answered on Friday.