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Huntsville City Schools sued for Title IX, Title XII violations after teen’s suicide

On Tuesday, one family filed a lawsuit against Huntsville City Schools over their son’s suicide.

Posted: Apr 13, 2021 7:02 PM

On Tuesday, one family filed a lawsuit against Huntsville City Schools over their son’s suicide.

The lawsuit by Nigel Shelby’s family alleges violations by school leaders and the city on the basis of race and sex.

Nigel Shelby

The family's attorneys said that Nigel Shelby was bullied at school and online all because of his sexual orientation and race.

"There was a long pattern of bullying and discrimination against Nigel Shelby by other students, you know, for months and months at this school and it dragged on for an extended period of time," said Jasmine Rand, one of the family's attorneys.

Attorneys said when Nigel sought out help from administrators, they also bullied and discriminated against him.

"He even met with his principal who said something that I was shocked, Judge Sharrod, would be said in this day and time. She told him when he talked about being bullied by the other students for being gay, she said being gay is a choice," said Ben Crump, one of the family's attorneys.

Huntsville City Schools could not talk about the specific allegations, but said they take bullying very seriously.

"In this particular instance, for a student to take their own life, it truly is heartbreaking," said Craig Williams, Huntsville City Schools spokesperson.

Attorneys said the school was very aware of what Shelby was experiencing, but his parents were never notified.

"I reached out to see what was going on at his school and I was always told everything was fine, and he wasn't fine," said Camika Shelby, Nigel's mother.

The lawsuit is now just being filed almost two years after his death to try and change the policy to stop school administrators and students from bullying someone because they're Black and gay.

"The lawsuit is really to bring justice on behalf of Nigel Shelby. It is to bring justice for the loss to these parents of their son," said Rand.

A son they described as an intelligent, outgoing teenager.

"I miss him so much," said Patrick Cruz, Nigel's father.

"Nigel Shelby's life mattered and that Nigel never should have died by suicide," said Crump.

The lawyers for the family said they want lawmakers to step up to the plate and make stronger laws and policies so what happened to Nigel doesn't happen again.

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