CLASS ACTION

Settlement Reached In Case Of OH Teen Whose Gay-Bashing Was Filmed

Though it is not accepting responsibility for any wrongdoing, an Ohio school agreed to a settlement on Thursday with a gay student whose vicious beating at a hands of a classmate was captured on a cell-phone camera and posted on Facebook.

The Union-Scioto school board has agreed to pay $20,000 in damages to Zach King, who was a 15-year-old freshman at Unioto High School in Chillicothe when he was gay-bashed last fall. The district will also pay up to $10,000 for medical and counseling fees and $5,000 in legal expenses, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

King and his mother claimed that Unioto officials fostered an atmosphere that allowed LGBT students to be bullied. Administrators failed to take action when the family complained about harassment by other students, and at one point even asked King, “What can we do to change you?”

King’s attacker, Levi Sever, was initially only suspended from school for three days. But after a hue and cry he was eventually charged with misdemeanor assault.

“Every child deserves a safe learning environment, free from violence and cruelty. The school had a responsibility to protect Zach, but looked the other way for over a year while he was verbally and physically bullied,” said ACLU of Ohio legal director James Hardiman. “Schools must proactively address bullying by engaging with students and teachers on the effects of harmful words and actions, or else risk even greater incidents of violence.”

Hardiman says the district has made a commitment to avoiding more incidents like this by training staff on how to address anti-LGBT harassment and developing a policy specifically focusing on homophobic behavior

Photo: ACLU of Ohio