Zachary Huston has bravely come forward as the 15-year-old gay student whose vicious beating at Unioto-Scioto High School in Chillicothe, OH, was captured on a cell-phone camera and posted on Facebook.
“I don’t even remember how many times I was hit,” says Zach, whose mother, Rebecca Collins, had previously spoken with the media. Zach explained that it was a comment the attacker made on his Facebook page that made it clear this was a bias crime. “[He wrote] check out the definition of a fag.”
Meanwhile The ACLU of Ohio is accusing Zach’s school of being “derelict in its responsibility to provide a safe learning environment,” according to the group’s legal director James Hardiman. “It’s not enough to recognize or know a student was bullied,” he said at a press conference on Monday. “It must go further than that… It’s not enough to have a policy on paper. The policy must have meaning— it must have teeth.”
The ACLU has requested a meeting with Unioto High School Principal Jim Osborne and Superintendent Dwight Garrett to discuss the issue of bullying, but Hardiman says they haven’t ruled out a lawsuit if the school isn’t cooperative. “We have reached out to the school to make certain they understand and appreciate what we’re trying to accomplish,” he explains. “We will not hesitate, however, if a response is not forthcoming, to take appropriate legal action.”
The October 17 attack, recorded and posted by the cousin of assailant Levi Sever, was not the first time Zach had been the victim of bullying. “[He] was pushed. Expletives were directed toward him,” says Hardiman of previous incidents. “His mother reported this to school officials. Nothing was done. After a period of time, it became an exercise in futility.”
Sever was initially only suspended from school for three days—but after a hue and cry he was eventually charged with misdemeanor assault and plead guilty this week. Zach has returned to school, where he still faces the taunts of classmates. “I feel a little scared,” he admits, “but I feel like if I don’t go back, then I let them get to me.”
Source: Lancaster Eagle Gazette via Towleroad