After a year in which increasing numbers of anti-gay bullying incidents led to a spate of teen suicides, a new cellphone video shows that a gay 15-year-old student in Ohio has been assaulted, allegedly because of his sexuality.
The grainy footage, which is believed to have been shot by the attacker’s cousin, appears to show the attacker waiting for a gay student inside a classroom before pushing him to the ground and continually punching him in the face. Change.org, which has started a petition in response to the attack that asks Ohio schools to better protect LGBT students, says the boy was left with broken teeth and a possible concussion.
The attacker was suspended for three days.
Neither boy has been named.
Authorities are now evaluating evidence of the attack, which took place at the Union-Scioto High School in Chillicothe, Ohio. The boy’s mother, Rebecca Collins, says she believes the attack was a hate crime, as her son was repeatedly called names at school relating to his sexuality.
The Chillicothe Gazette reports that no student has been willing to come forward to talk about the fight, or whether it was over the boy’s sexual orientation. The suspected attacker reportedly told police officers that he has a mental illness and “just zoned out.”
More than 4,000 people have now joined the Change.org campaign calling for the Union-Scioto School District to pass an anti-bullying policy that includes gender identity and sexual orientation.
Collins told the Gazette: “I've called and called and called. . . . [The response] has been real lackadaisical, 'kids will be kids,’. . . To me, it's not only the kids doing it. The teachers aren't stepping in.”
James Osborne, principal at Union-Scioto High School, told ABC he condemned the “unfortunate” attack. “I am not saying we have never had any reports of bullying — we have just as much as any school. . . . But we've never had anything of this magnitude.”
The Gazette also reports that school administrators plan to meet with Collins and her son this week.
Watch the video:
Last year, a rise in the numbers of anti-gay bullying incidents led to a state of suicides. While many schools responded by stepping up their efforts to protect such incidents, the Ohio attack isn’t the only incident to show that those efforts may not have been strong enough.
A new report from students in Essex County in the U.K. found that teachers had told students to act “less gay”or wear their hair differently so as not to attract bullies.
And just less than a month and a half ago, 14-year-old boy Jamey Rodemeyer in Buffalo, N.Y., was viciously bullied over his sexuality. When Rodemeyer made an “It gets better video,” to tell other gay teens that the harassment would not last forever, a student wrote in response to the video: “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT AND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” Rodemeyer killed himself soon after.