Jamie Nabozny attended school in the Ashland Public School District (the district) (defendant). In seventh grade, Nabozny disclosed that he was gay, and Nabozny’s classmates began harassing and physically abusing him. Nabozny was called derogatory names, hit, and spit on. Nabozny reported the harassment to his counselor, who ordered the students to stop and gave two students detention. The district had a policy that prohibited discrimination against students on the basis of gender or sexual orientation and a policy against student-on-student sexual harassment and battery. However, Nabozny’s original counselor was replaced by Nowakowski. Nabozny again was harassed by classmates and reported the conduct to Nowakowski, who referred the matter to Principal Mary Podlesny (defendant). Podlesny told Nabozny that she would protect him, but Podlesny took no action. Subsequently, Nabozny’s classmates pushed Nabozny to the floor and performed a mock rape on him while 20 other students watched and laughed. The classmates told Nabozny that he should be enjoying it. When Nabozny escaped, he reported the conduct to Podlesny. Podlesny told Nabozny that boys will be boys and that Nabozny should have expected that type of behavior, because he was openly gay. No action was taken against the attacking students. The harassment and abuse continued into eighth grade, and Nabozny attempted suicide because of the harassment. In the ninth grade, one of Nabozny’s classmates pushed Nabozny into a urinal and then urinated on him. Nabozny reported the attack to Principal William Davis (defendant). Again, no action was taken against the attackers. Another attack occurred when Nabozny was in the tenth grade. Nabozny was sitting in a hallway when a group of students approached, and one began to kick Nabozny in the stomach while the other students laughed. This attack was reported to Blauert (defendant), who was in charge of school discipline. Blauert laughed at Nabozny and told him that he deserved it because he was gay. Nabozny then withdrew from the district and moved to Minneapolis. Nabozny was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Nabozny sued the district, Podlesny, Davis, and Blauert under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants. Nabozny appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.