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Gay Ohio Teen Beaten in the Classroom Tells His Story (VIDEO)

Gay Ohio Teen Beaten in the Classroom Tells His Story (VIDEO)

 

Readers may remember the shocking story of Zach Huston, a gay teenager who during class at Unioto High School in Chillicothe last year was beaten as the culmination of anti-gay bullying. A video of the attack went viral on YouTube. School authorities, however, seemed to blame Zach and not his attackers, reportedly asking “What can we do to change you?”

Now, Zach and his mother Rebecca Collins have together with the ACLU released a video discussing the escalating bullying Zach suffered and how the alleged inaction of the administration shocked and upset them.

Statements via the ACLU press release:

“Every child deserves a safe learning environment, free from violence and cruelty,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James L. Hardiman. “The school had a responsibility to protect Zach, but looked the other way for over a year while he was verbally and physically bullied. Schools must proactively address bullying by engaging with students and teachers on the effects of harmful words and actions, or else risk even greater incidents of violence. This education must start at a young age in order to change the school’s culture, so this behavior is no longer acceptable.”

[...]

“This has been an ongoing nightmare for our family. No parent wants to see their child in danger, and it has been a constant fear that Zach or one of our loved ones would be harmed,” said Zach’s mother, Rebecca Collins. “Through Zach’s ordeal, I hope schools recognize they must take reports of bullying seriously and educate others on how it affects families.”

The ACLU of Ohio is now representing Zach’s family and is considering a wide range of legal options to ensure that the school and wider district never again allows this kind of thing to happen to a student. The ACLU, at the time the case first came to light, also sent a letter to school officials in an effort to establish a dialogue before formal legal action is filed.

To find out more about Zach’s story, click here.

As the video above highlights, there currently sits in Congress the Student Non Discrimination Act. The Act, introduced in the House by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Col.) and in the Senate by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), would add to existing federal statutes and grant explicit protections against bullying on the grounds of perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

If schools that receive federal funds fail to adequately combat and track incidents of anti-LGBT bullying, or if school administrators are found to have discriminated against LGBT children, then under the Student Non Discrimination Act their federal funding could be cut.

The GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate survey of more than 7,000 LGBT middle and high school students from across the U.S. found that nine out of ten students experienced harassment at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that two-thirds said they felt unsafe in schools.

LGBT youth are also at an increased rick of suicide-linked mental health issues, many of which are in turn linked to bullying and harassment in their daily lives.

Related Reading:

Seth Walsh’s Mom Speaks Out About Her Son’s Anti-LGBT Bullying Related Death

Bullied Gay Teen Who Attempted Suicide Dies in Hospital

Ellen DeGeneres has an Important Message for LGBT Youth

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Image taken from YouTube video, no infringement intended.

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100 comments

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12:24PM PST on Feb 16, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

4:52PM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

It's awful, the way good kids like Zach are treated in American schools. It may even be worse that the school usually takes sides with the bullies or just tries to sweep the whole thing under the tablecloth.
Zach and Rebecca, you are brave to stand your ground in the current political climate. Keep fighting for what is right!
Rebecca, you can be proud to have a son like Zach, an intelligent, creative, friendly and respectful kid, who happens to be gay. I would, if he were mine.
Zach, you've got a wonderful mam! Best wishes for the both of you.

10:32AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

Oddly enough, the young man we hired as a sitter for our son was also named Zach, and had also been bullied for being gay. My gay, pagan, organic gardener (who I miss dearly since we moved out of the area) and his husband brought Zach to our attention.

Our son only noticed that Zach had what I call the gay-identity accent/mode of speech, liked his playing with him the way my son liked to play (lots of imagination), and he seemed to like things girls liked. He liked having a male sitter for a change, too.

Due to the diverse nature of our friends, our son has been around the LGBT community all his life.

Our neurologically atypical son has been bullied most of his educational life for being different. He finally made it too uncomfortable or unsatisfying to be bullied by talking over the bullies' understanding, mocking them in ways they often didn't understand at all, and generally being a wise-ass.

A few bullies from his middle school attend his high school now, and he proved to be a worthless target, and they leave him alone. He stands up to them, as he always has, for other kids being bullied.

8:41AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

Zach and Rebecca, I hope the law goes into effect soon. Any kind of 'Bullying' is bad enough, but for being gay or lesbian is total discrimination.

12:58AM PST on Feb 29, 2012

Zach, I am proud of you and your mom for standing up against the people who have either hurt you or ignored the fact that you were being hurt. Kids can be ugly to each other at times. It is up to adults to teach them this is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. We don't all have to like each other, but we do have to respect everyone's right to be themselves and live in peace. And we certainly don't have the right to class an entire group of people for ANY reason as fair game to discriminate against and torment daily. Zach, please continue to be yourself and love yourself for who you are, and you will grow into a man who can bring great positive change to the world. I hope you can have compassion one day for the hateful and ugly mess the kids who have hurt you have snarled up in their hearts and minds. It can never bring them happiness, and I hope they have the help to realize that before they grow one day older. Peace and happiness to you and your mom -- brave warriors for justice and compassion!

8:11AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Good for him for taking a stand! There are good things ahead for this kid. Keep your head up Zach!

5:06AM PST on Feb 21, 2012

This guy is very brave, he should never give in and one day it'll get better :-(

5:39PM PST on Feb 19, 2012

In Canadian schools, we have acceptable norms of behaviors for all students, and it excludes bullying... all parents as well as their students are informed of this, and any violation of it is subject to being expelled (timed expulsion, temporary, or permanent) from school.
What does the USA have in its schools (at every level? condoned bullying? unwritten? unspoken? etc)

2:07PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Thanks jeremy L.!

12:28PM PST on Feb 11, 2012

Thank you for informing us of this and having a petition to sign asking for a federal law against it---it's the only way it will stop. After the federal law we need state laws as well local school laws.

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