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Wed Feb 13, 2019, 01:13 PM

Former Chesterfield County, Virginia, teacher sues district over discrimination

Former Chesterfield County teacher sues district over discrimination
By MEL LEONOR Richmond Times-Dispatch 17 hrs ago

A former Chesterfield County public school teacher says that failing to appear more feminine at work and requesting accommodations for her disability attracted harassment and discrimination from the leaders of two county schools. ... Dina Persico is challenging that treatment in a federal lawsuit that argues Chesterfield County leaders violated her civil rights.

Persico identifies as a lesbian and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. She says these characteristics, combined with her short haircut and staple attire of a plaid shirt and a cardigan, made her a target for criticism.

“It was like, could you not be you, could you be this,” Persico said of the treatment she faced. “I really do think it was the combination of, I’m gay, I’m a little more masculine presenting, and the autism piece, all came together and it made them so uncomfortable.”

In an interview, Persico said school leaders at Providence Middle and Midlothian High repeatedly criticized her appearance and what she says they called “flamboyant” behavior. ... At the same time, Persico said she was denied accommodations for her disability, such as a job coach during parts of her employment.

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