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Second Teen in Two Weeks Attacked in Ohio School

For immediate release
November 2nd, 2011   

For more information contact:
Brandon Monson (614) 224-0400
                                (801) 651-6712        

Westerville, OH -- A second teenager in just two weeks was beaten in an Ohio public school by a another student because of homophobia.  On Tuesday, November 1st, a student at Westerville South High School in Westerville, Ohio, was called “fag” and “faggot” by another student, before that student punched him in the head several times. The victim has a possible concussion and is currently undergoing emergency medical testing; the student is unable to attend school for at least one week. The victim does not identify as gay, but he does have a lesbian sister and has been harassed about that for four years.

A teacher at the school broke up the assault and took the victim to the school nurse. The attacker will be suspended from school for five days, and his schedule will be altered so it does not overlap with the victim’s.

This incident comes only a week after a 15-year-old teenager in Chillicothe, Ohio was severely beaten in his high school class room for being gay. That attack occurred at Unioto High School and was caught on camera as fellow class members watched one teen wait for the victim to enter the room, push him to the ground and continually punch him in the face. 

Unlike Chillicothe, the Westerville City School system does have a bullying policy that prohibits bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, among other characteristics. The Westerville incident, however, demonstrates the need for comprehensive, age-appropriate instruction on bullying and harassment. The School Day Security and Anti-Bullying Act (HB 116) would amend sections 3313.666 and 3313.667 of the Revised Code to require age-appropriate instruction on and parental notification of public schools' policies prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying. The bill has passed the Ohio House of Representatives and has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee.

The student’s mother, Stacey G., explains that her son has been harassed for the last four years with little response from the school system. Stacey says: “Ever since the 5th grade we’ve been dealing with the bullying and harassment. The school is brushing off it’s responsibilities by just suspending the bully.”

Equality Ohio Executive Director, Ed Mullen, explains that the incident proves that policies and training are needed to help end the bullying epidemic in our public school systems. Mullen says:  “All students -- gay or straight -- need to be protected from attacks and harassment in schools. Our elected officials in Ohio need to pass comprehensive anti-bullying reform to ensure that students, teachers, and administrators are trained to identify and end bullying and harassment in our schools.”

Equality Ohio advocates and educates to achieve fair treatment and equal opportunity for all Ohioans regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. For more information visit www.equalityohio.org or give us a call at (614) 224-0400.

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