Brooklyn HS allowed transgender student to be bullied, beat up: lawsuit

A Brooklyn high school failed to properly intervene when a transgender 9th grader’s classmates bullied her on social media, culminating in an assault of the girl that was caught on video, according to a complaint.

Ronette Hinkson filed a case with the State Division of Human Rights on March 11 against the city and the W. H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School after her 15-year-old transgender daughter was beaten up by a classmate’s cousin on Jan. 18 as she was leaving school, the complaint alleges.

In a video obtained by The Post, students can be heard cheering on as the student – who is referred to as M.B. in the complaint – is thrown to the ground and repeatedly punched and slapped by a male teen. Another person jumps in and appears to grapple with M.B. before officers break up the fight.

Prior to the assault, on Nov. 9, students using fake names allegedly hurled insults at M.B. in a Snapchat group message, according to the complaint. And again on Nov. 19, students sent vicious messages to M.B. including “Dumb t—-y bitch,” “Ur a waste of sperm,” and “T—-y ass bitch,” the complaint alleges.

Ronette Hinkson filed a lawsuit against the city and the W. H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School after her 15-year-old transgender daughter was assaulted in January.
Paul Martinka
M.B. was attacked outside of the school by a classmate's cousin.
The student, known as M.B., was attacked outside of the school by a classmate’s cousin.

In the same chat, a cousin of M.B.’s classmate threatened M.B. “U not pressing my cousin I’ll come to that school pls don’t play with me,” the complaint claims. And the cousin – called “King” – would be one of the kids to attack M.B. months later.

M.B. notified a teacher and a guidance counsel at the school of the November Snapchat bullying, but the staffers never told M.B.’s mom or the police, choosing instead to have the student who initiated the Snapchat messages apologize to M.B., the court papers claim.

“I’m almost in tears now thinking about my child going through a transition from being born as a male [and] to now have a life like this where people don’t understand and want to hurt my child for no reason,” Hinkson, 46, told The Post.

M.B. said she told a teacher and guidance counselor about the bullying, but neither staffer told her mother or the police.
M.B. said she told a teacher and guidance counselor about the bullying, but neither staffer told her mother or the police.
Gregory P. Mango

“I’m a very involved parent so to know that I couldn’t protect my child in a situation like that … it hurts,” Hinkson said.

The mom said it was “heartbreaking” watching the video and knowing that it was posted to Instagram before cruelly being texted to M.B. “I was at a loss for words especially since it was put out on social media,” Hinkson said.

“My child could have been killed and for them to act like nothing happened, [like] it wasn’t a serious thing – that’s traumatizing,” Hinkson said, as she began to cry.

M.B. said the bullying has made her more of a loner.
M.B. said the bullying has made her more of a loner.
Paul Martinka
The classmate's cousin "King" who attacked M.B. outside of the school.
The classmate’s cousin “King,” who attacked M.B. outside of the school.

Hinkson said she didn’t find out about the November bullying until January and didn’t find out about the assault on M.B. until a few days later, prompting her to report both incidents to the police and pull M.B. out of the school right away.

“My child was being bullied and reported that to the guidance counselor in the school,” Hinkson said. “The hope is that the counselor would have done the right thing and pulled everyone together and resolve the issue.”

Hinkson says the bullying has made M.B. more distrustful of people and made her “more of a loner”.

M.B. is now attending another public high school closer to their home in Queens, the mom said.

“She was an outgoing person now she doesn’t really trust people,” Hinkson said, noting that M.B.’s distrust extends to adults since the teachers failed to protect her.

“Not one person from W. H. Maxwell High ever let Ronette know that her minor child was being harassed and physically threatened at school,” the complaint charges. “This willful negligence resulted in the January 18, 2022 assault.”

Hinkson said it was "heartbreaking" to see the video and know that it was also posted on social media.
Hinkson said it was “heartbreaking” to see the video and know that it was also posted on social media.
Paul Martinka

“The DOE tacitly condoned the discrimination and retaliation,” from the other classmates “by remaining deliberately indifferent through its failure and refusal to enforce its own rules … requiring mandatory reporting of discrimination, retaliation and threats of physical violence toward students,” the complaint claims.

“My client has a god-given right to attend public school in New York City free of discrimination and bullying on account of gender identity, and the Department of Education needs to do better,” said David H. Rosenberg, a lawyer for Hinkson and M.B.

“Bullying and harassment have absolutely no place in our school communities. We take such allegations and the safety of our students very seriously and will review the complaint. Our schools must be sanctuaries for our young people as they grow academically and socially,” said Department of Education spokesperson Sarah Casasnovas.