ACLU | Bullying | Education | Law - Gay, LGBT | Ohio

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Gay Teen Assaulted In School Reaches Settlement With School District

ZachKingLet it be known: School districts can save a good chunk of change by not allowing gay kids to get beaten on their watch.

So learned Ohio's Union-Scioto school district, which includes the town of Chillicothe, where gay student Zach King suffered a beating at Unioto High last October. He was 15. The beating was captured on camera, went viral, and soon Zach found himself represented in a lawsuit by the ACLU. On Thursday, King, his mother, and the ACLU reached an agreement with the school district, according to which the district shall pay King and his legal reps "up to $35,000" and "improve its anti-bullying policies." From The Colombus Dispatch:

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.

The school district’s insurer will pay $20,000 in damages to King and his mother, provide up to $10,000 in reimbursement for medical and counseling expenses and pay $5,000 in legal fees to the ACLU.

Through a lawyer, the school board communicated that they didn't feel they had fostered any kind of bully-facilitating atmosphere. 

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Comments

  1. Please. "Up to" $35K is chump change for any insurer. There should have been a larger payout.

    Posted by: Omar | Jul 22, 2012 11:22:25 AM


  2. Remember kids sue for all you can get, millions of dollars, if you are beaten for being LGBT. Just call the ACLU or the lawyer who can fight for you and get millions of dollars for you. Some people only understand money and when you sue them for a lot of money they get the message. Help stop LGBT beatings by suing the attacker or school or who ever has more money and get all you can.

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 22, 2012 11:36:49 AM


  3. "Can you hear me now?"

    Posted by: Craig | Jul 22, 2012 11:59:27 AM


  4. $35K may be "chump change" for an insurer, but the increase in premium rates for a small school district is definitely something to regret. It is certainly something to notice for other school districts that lack or fail to enforce effective anti-bullying policies.

    Posted by: Fred | Jul 22, 2012 12:05:43 PM


  5. Now they need to bankrupt the families of the bullies. If the parents don't care that their "precious" children will beat someone else's child because he/she is queer, then show them that there are consequences to their apathy and poor parenting.

    Posted by: Kenneth | Jul 22, 2012 12:46:20 PM


  6. The school should pay all the kid's medical bills related to this attack. The school shouldn't be tolerating anyone from suffering physical attacks like this regardless of the motivation. But you know that won't happen until someone get threatened so bad they feel they have no choice but to fight back and they actually succeed. Unfortunately, someone is likely to die in that scenario, then the victim is going to have to defend himself from arrogant assholes who think he's the one at fault when the death is on their hands for not doing anything to help the victim before someone had to died.

    Posted by: Garst | Jul 22, 2012 12:55:06 PM


  7. "Through a lawyer, the school board communicated that they didn't feel they had fostered any kind of bully-facilitating atmosphere."

    Clearly the school board doesn't get it... I would think that such an official statement by the school board would be grounds for re-opening the case and giving them a fine that would help them to understand better their responsibility.

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Jul 22, 2012 1:41:35 PM


  8. So sad to read how poorly the ACLU handled this, where the settlement is what a lunch lady might be paid--which gives an idea of how much a young life is valued in Ohio. Speaking as a therapist, the $5,000 allocated for medical support and therapy doesn't reflect the future needs that will probably kick in by his adulthood.

    Posted by: Ty Nolan | Jul 22, 2012 3:19:45 PM


  9. @ Alex Parrish: My thought precisely. The distric was just admonished to "improve its anti-bullying policies," and their following official statement is to deny that they "fostered any kind of bully-facilitating atmosphere."

    Isn't that like being fined for driving under the influence and then asserting that you did not foster any atmosphere for alcohol consumption?

    Posted by: Jeff Kurtti | Jul 22, 2012 5:38:12 PM


  10. 'Can't we all get along?" Rodney King

    Posted by: John | Jul 22, 2012 6:34:06 PM


  11. Why are kids still getting beaten up in school? I thought the "It Gets Better" campaign was suppposed to change this. Looks like it's not getting better, and that there are a lot of homophobic kids out there.

    I also happen to believe that a lot of homophobia comes from girls.

    Posted by: jason | Jul 22, 2012 6:58:41 PM


  12. I APPLAUD this kid for standing up for his rights...taking it to the authorities..REPORTING IT...and getting paid! Good going kid. You didn't just accept being mistreated...you FOUGHT back and fought back where it hurts...in their pockets, in the courtroom, and got the media involved.
    Very strong young man

    Posted by: New Yorker | Jul 22, 2012 8:17:22 PM


  13. This kid is wonderful. And has so much strength to face his attackers and still come out with a strong voice. He gets the last laugh and the $25,000 he walks away with sure doesn't hurt either. Well deserved and well played kid.

    Posted by: Mark | Jul 22, 2012 8:18:20 PM


  14. I agree with others. This guy should serve as a role model and example for what other young gay kids can and should do when bullied. You are not to be harassed in a school setting. When you are, tell someone, document it, then hire a lawyer if it doesn't stop. You owe it to yourself!

    Posted by: Jiles | Jul 22, 2012 8:19:22 PM


  15. I really hate the word "bullying." It sounds so innocuous. Why can't we call it what it is when adults to it? Assault and battery.

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 22, 2012 9:19:04 PM


  16. Oh Jason, so negative, so misguided. The It Gets Better campaign makes no allusion to stopping bullying. Bullying only stops when kids like this stand up and speak out, but more importantly, when they are supported by the adults in their lives. The It Gets Better campaign is designed to let the victims of bullying know, that yes it does get better. It is designed to give them the courage to hang in there and not do something rash. It gives them support when they don't think there is any. Homophobes will always exist, but their ranks continue to grow smaller. Furthermore, cases like this will chip away at tolerance for homophobia. So, for this brave kid, it got better.

    Posted by: Kenneth | Jul 22, 2012 9:55:37 PM


  17. Jason what do you do to make things better? Anything at all?

    Posted by: GeorgeM | Jul 23, 2012 7:26:35 AM


  18. I am happy and proud that this kid and his mom took a stand against bullying and rescued their dignity in the process. But i have to wonder if we will hear about something like this again from this school or school district.

    Posted by: Gabe R L | Jul 23, 2012 11:55:09 AM


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