Tyler Miller, now 18, reported to school officials that three boys sexually assaulted him on an out-of-state class trip. Miller informed school officials that the boys sodomized him with a TV remote in a hotel room, and he says they yelled anti-gay slurs at him during the assault.
They Believed Him But…
And although school officials believed Tyler, they never told him how the rape was handled.
“Tyler, who was 16 at the time, didn’t immediately report this to school officials, in part because he’d just earned a spot on the Sprague High School varsity basketball team in Salem, Oregon, and was intimidated by the coaching staff and other players. But a year later, when a teammate said they were looking forward to doing some ‘gay shit’ to him at the 2016 tourney, Tyler spoke up.”
However, although the school did contact law enforcement, they never told Tyler or his family how his perpetrators were disciplined. It was as if nothing had ever happened. Tyler was in a nightmarish limbo.
Constantly In Fear
He was unable to unable to navigate his school day without constant fear of reprisal.
Many students rallied around the boys who sodomized Tyler. The boys who assaulted him were teammates on the basketball team he played for at his High School. The mother of one of the boys yelled profanities at him during a game. And there was more.
From the BuzzFeed article:
“After Tyler came forward, he said he faced more harassment, including a picture sent to his phone of a TV remote wrapped in a condom, and kids calling him a ‘snitch’ at Sprague. All of this was reported to Sprague, but the Millers said the administrators never told them what they would do about it.”
Despite assurances from the school that they disciplined the boys, they provided no information to assist Tyler in surviving the hallways of his High School.
Tyler had no plan to keep himself safe because the High School claimed privacy concerns prohibited such disclosure.
Although Tyler’s family’s attorney asserted Title IX allows for more disclosure, the school disagreed:
“The Salem-Keizer School District confirmed in a statement that students ‘were disciplined accordingly,’ but declined to elaborate, which is all officials told the Miller family as well. The school also told BuzzFeed News that it develops safety plans to control unruly parents, ‘but a key part of a safety plan is that the details are confidential.'”
The reason cited by schools in cases such as Tyler’s is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA is a statute that allows for schools to keep student records private. This is a double-edged sword.
And Tyler’s case is the edge that cuts deepest.
Even the author of FERPA acknowledges the statute is flawed and needs to be rewritten to protect kids like Tyler. Buzzfeed spoke to him, and he related those concerns:
“At a time of heightened concerns over privacy in the digital age, it’s unlikely FERPA will undergo major amendments any time soon, though even its author concedes change by Congress is needed. ‘I’m sure it needs revision,’ James L. Buckley, who drafted the law as a US senator, told BuzzFeed News. When he proposed FERPA in 1974, Buckley cited the Watergate scandal and the government’s abuse of power as his driving force. FERPA was designed to protect students and their families from having their privacy violated. But he has since said schools have gone on to use it as an ‘excuse for not giving out any information they didn’t want to give.'”
FERPA essentially has become a means to protect schools as much as it protects the students.
And that is unfair to Tyler Miller and the thousands of kids that suffer the kind of abuse that he did.
Featured Image by ajuprasetyo via Pixabay/CC-0.