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Ohio School Settles Anti-Gay Attack Case

Ohio School Settles Anti-Gay Attack Case

 

An Ohio school has agreed a settlement in a legal case that saw a student viciously beaten by another student in class, a video of which went viral on the Internet.

Reports the Columbus Dispatch:

The Union-Scioto school board approved an agreement on Thursday that stemmed from another student’s assault on Zach King, then a 15-year-old freshman, in a Unioto High School classroom on Oct. 17.

King and his mother, Rebecca Collins, claimed that school officials “fostered an atmosphere” that permitted the bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students while disregarding his reports of harassment.

[...]

“We hope similarly situated students don’t have to go through what Zach went through. The school district has made a commitment to try to avoid incidents like this in the future,” said James Hardiman, a Cleveland lawyer and the legal director of the ACLU of Ohio.

As a result of the settlement the district’s insurers will pay $20,000 in damages. The district will also pay up to $10,000 for medical and counseling expenses, and $5,000 in reimbursement for Zach and his mother’s legal fees. Officials have also agreed to develop a policy specifically addressing anti-LGBT behavior, as well as to train staff on how to better handle anti-LGBT harassment cases.

Lawyers for the district have, however, made it clear that the school does not accept charges of wrongdoing in Zach’s case.

A video of Zach being beaten in class by a fellow student went viral on the Internet last year. It later emerged that Zach and his mother had repeatedly pleaded with school authorities to do more to deal with the harassing behavior aimed at Zach. The suit claimed that the school’s authorities failed to take suitable action against his aggressors, and that they even asked Zach, “What can we do to change you?”

The ACLU, in taking on Zach’s case, charged that the school had ample opportunity to prevent the attack but failed to properly deal with the situation, with the ACLU of Ohio’s Legal Director, James L. Hardiman, saying at the time:

“Every child deserves a safe learning environment, free from violence and cruelty. 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.”

Following the settlement the ACLU highlighted the school had made a commitment to improving its handling of such cases, and that it hoped there would never be another incident like this in the district.

 

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 ACLU public domain video campaign.

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48 comments

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9:46PM PDT on May 10, 2013

This school most definitely failed this kid!

12:24PM PDT on Sep 15, 2012

If you don't know how to deal with bullies, you shouldn't be teaching. It's not easy but it's not exactly rocket science. Sit them down, and talk to them. Don't yell and punish, just talk. Find out why they need to attack people. It's usually low self-esteem. When they're ready, have them apologize. They're all just kids.

11:20AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

The school should be ashamed that they failed that poor kid, leading to his violent assault. They deserve to pay a big fine. To bad they didn't address the bullying in the first place. there should be NO tolerance of bullying. Don't hang out with the LGBT kids if you don't want to, but don't you dare harass and assault them...

5:21PM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

Do not worry a$$hole bigots! I am sure you would not have learned from this experience and you will get a chance to be sued again and again!

9:46AM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

"Lawyers for the district have, however, made it clear that the school does not accept charges of wrongdoing in Zach’s case." How ridiculous! Bullying is a problem even if you are not Gay, I went through the same thing with bullying and school admin for my daughter and others and met with same type response from administration. Guess they needed to be sued too to do anything constructive, of course their defense money for layers who do not represent the children or their parents is likely paid by the parents (taxes), what justice, huh?

7:01AM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

Thanks for the update.

6:40AM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

If the child was harassed and beaten for being Christian, there would be a whole lot more noise....the fact that the Bd of Ed.thought a concussion was worth 3 days suspension, and the town didn't press charges of assault let us know they are hate-mongers, supporting those who do their dirty work. The minimal consequences on everyone involved is as good as permission...

3:25PM PDT on Jul 24, 2012

I don't know what the settlement was, but I hope it was enough to burn the butts of this Board of Education.

11:43AM PDT on Jul 24, 2012

Sometimes, I think every school district in the country is going to have to go through a court case a nd awarding of damages before schools will do somethinng to prevent the harrassment of gay students, and even then, some will have to go through it more than once.

7:24PM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

Nobody is obligated to have sympathy for a gay cause, however a person that is considered civilized must respect the differences.
This is called freedom and it is an inalienable right of any citizen.
Any citizen, be him gay or heterosexual has the same rights and obligations, so, must be protected by the laws.

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