Ohio School Must Improve Anti-Bullying Efforts after Brutal Attack

Protect all students

On October 17th, 2011 a bully waited anxiously inside the doors of a classroom of the Union-Scioto High School in Ohio for Zack Huston, a fifteen year-old homosexual freshman at the school, to walk in. Upon Zack’s arrival, he was immediately met with fists. The bully assaulted Zach for no reason except that Zach was gay. He knocked him to the ground, and continually punched him. The video is difficult to watch.

This video, which very quickly went viral, caught the attention of many people. Among them was Bret Thompson, who was inspired to start an online petition asking the school district to reevaluate and reform their policies on bullying. This petition has over 84,000 signatures to date, and that number is only increasing. This issue was not only apparent in the Union-Scioto High School, but in schools all around Ohio. In 2005, a study conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network found that nearly 50% of students in Ohio felt that bullying was a serious problem in their school. 66% of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) surveyed felt unsafe at school.  And out of 7,000 LGBT high school students, 90% of them felt that they were bullied based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) decided to represent Mr. Huston in this case. The Ohio school district has agreed to pay $35,000 to settle the suit. $20,000 will be awarded to Zach Huston for damages, $10,000 will go towards medical and counseling fees, and $5,000 will go towards legal expenses. Although they did not admit any wrongdoing, the school agreed to improve its anti-bullying policies, and is committed to help avoid similar incidents in the future.