On September 21st, a federal jury in Eugene found that the Greater Albany Public School District and Jerrie Matuszak, the former principal of Oak Grove Elementary School, discriminated against former elementary school student Lior Onaly-Kelsey in violation of the United States Constitution, Title IX, and Oregon law. The jury awarded Mx. Onaly-Kelsey $317,353 in compensation.
Lior Onaly-Kelsey, now 15, was 8 years old and in third grade when other students at Oak Grove Elementary began to bully and harass them because they are nonbinary. Evidence showed that children called them “the devil’s spawn” and “faggot,” and threatened to forcibly remove their clothes to see what sex they were, among other things. Former Oak Grove principal Matuszak knew of the bullying but did not investigate or intervene. By fifth grade, the bullying had become so severe that Mx. Onaly-Kelsey was forced to transfer to online school and then out of the District.
This case may be the first instance of a nonbinary plaintiff prevailing in a discrimination lawsuit. We are proud to have been able to represent Lior Onaly-Kelsey in their fight to achieve justice, accountability, and make schools safer for LGBTQIA+ students throughout Oregon.