The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

November 7, 2008

Gay father fights back

Valley man files complaint with state against Line Mountain

HERNDON -- A Dornsife father has filed a complaint on behalf of his three sons with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, claiming the Line Mountain School District failed to protect his children from bullying in school.

Walter Byers claims that his sons, ages 13, 15 and 17, were sexually harassed by fellow classmates for two years while attending classes in the Line Mountain district because Byers is gay.

"They have every right to go to school without being taunted and teased," Byers said. "I am who I am. My kids shouldn't have to suffer for that."

The constant name-calling, which at times escalated into physical altercations, Byers said, detrimentally affected his sons' abilities to learn while in school.

"As a parent you hurt because you want your child to do the best they can do in school," Byers said.

Byers was recently awarded full custody of his children and even cares for a nephew. The father admits his sons had disciplinary problems while enrolled in the Line Mountain district that continued when they transferred to the Shikellamy School District, but he attributes their behavioral problems to Line Mountain's failure to halt the alleged harassment his children faced.

Neither Line Mountain Superintendent David Campbell or high school Principal Jeffrey Roadcap would comment on the complaint.

Shannon Powers of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission confirmed that Byers filed his complaints with the commission in May, and said they are under investigation.

Byers, a self-employed contractor, said the emotional turmoil his family is facing has kept him from working for the past two years, having to constantly pick his children up at school when problems arise.

"I'm afraid my kids are going to just drop out of school," he said. "I want them to guarantee they are going to protect my kids and it's not happening."

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