|Zach Huston née King courtesy of the ACLU of Ohio|
COLUMBUS, OH -- In October, 2011 a Chillicothe-area, Ohio high school freshman named Zach Huston was brutally beaten by a fellow student in his high school classroom because of his sexual orientation. In the days following the attack, the beating, captured on video using a cell phone, and later posted to Facebook, sparked national outrage and drew even more attention to the issue of school bullying.
That’s when Zach and his mom, Becky Collins, went from being victims to becoming activists. After the attack, Zach and his mom, along with the ACLU, sued the Union-Scioto Local School District, claiming that school officials had “fostered an atmosphere” that permitted the bullying of LGBT students while disregarding his reports of harassment.
Bullied since second grade, the openly gay then 15-year-old was harassed and taunted for acting "girly,” having long hair and being different at Unioto High School in Chillicothe.
Earlier this month, the school district's Board of Education agreed to settle the lawsuit for $35,000 — while admitting no wrongdoing — and agreed to make changes to the way it handles harassment and bullying of LGBT students.
In December 2011, the ACLU offered testimony to the Ohio Senate Education Committee showing support for new anti-bullying legislation. The ACLU also testified on the constitutional limits schools and the legislature face when addressing “cyber-bullying,” which often happens outside of school.
On February 2, 2012, Ohio Governor John Kasich(R) signed House Bill 116, also known as the Jessica Logan Act, into law. The bill requires school staff to obtain training to prevent bullying, mandates that parents receive annual notification of school bullying policies and extends those anti-bullying to school buses.
“Every child deserves a safe learning environment, free from violence and cruelty,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James L. Hardiman. “The school had a responsibility to protect Zach, but looked the other way for over a year while he was verbally and physically bullied.
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. This education must start at a young age in order to change the school’s culture, so this behavior is no longer acceptable.”As the opening of school approaches this September, Zach says he won’t be scared to go back.
Since the attack, he and his mother have told their stories to dozens of groups of teens and adults around the state including at the ACLU of Ohio’s biennial conference last Friday in Columbus. They were part of a panel called “It’s Getting Better,” where they shared their story and talked about what can be done to prevent and react to bullying and harassment of LGBTQ youth.
“It’s empowering to do this, to share my story with other people,” Zach said after the panel. “And I hope they will learn and one day, there will be a lot less bullies than there are now.”
“Matt and Zach’s story are far more common than we might believe,” said Raphael Davis-Williams, an ACLU board member and civil rights attorney. “Sexual orientation and issues around sexual orientation are still viewed as the only acceptable form of discrimination.”
In addition to speaking on the panel, Zach and his mom were honored by the ACLU for their contributions over the last year, receiving the organization’s Flame of Liberty award.
“They have been so clear about their desire to see broader change in school systems,” said Chris Link, executive director of the Ohio ACLU.
Collins told those in attendance to keep reaching out to teachers, principals and other parents if their child is bullied, and if that doesn’t get a response, go to the police to report verbal or physical harassment. ~ The Columbus Dispatch
“The more people that stand up, the more it makes a difference. Everybody’s different,” Zach said, adding, “But they should be treated the same.”
New Jersey Bed & Breakfast Owner Tells Local Woman God Invented Aids To Punish Gays
|Photo courtesy of Joianne Fraschilla|
BEVERLY, NJ -- A Bed and Breakfast located in Edgewater Park, New Jersey posted a sign out front that read that the business supported the upcoming Chick-Fil-A appreciation Day Wednesday and that marriage was between one man and one woman. A local woman, Joianne Fraschilla, took offence at the sign posting a picture of the sign on Facebook writing:
"This is somewhere my son loves to pass by and we have been excited to visit. Not anymore. I'm sad to see a local business anti LGBT marriage."
Apparently Fraschilla's public observation didn't sit well with the business' owners who responded to her Facebook post with their own saying;
"Isn't it wonderful Joanne Fraschilla, that you and your son can enjoy the animals here because I have a traditional marriage with a husband who works with me 90 hours a week to take care of these animals, and the summer camp
....we're 66-68 years old....there were no gays or queers in our time.....
if two old ladies chose to live together..so be it, let them deal with God when they get there...but to have the "face sucking" thrown in my face of two gay lesbians who are totally destroying the "normal balance in a child's life" as you claim your son...where is the role model that your son needs to know how to act like a man? or will he only see the "one sided selfishness" of a "single parent"...and end up an out cast in society by being "gay" himself because he didn't have a father as a role model.
I'll pray for you....remember what the bible says: "Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas".....guess that's why God invented aids....
THIS LOCAL BUSINESS WILL BE ONE MAN ONE WOMAN ONE GOD MAKES MARRIAGE....AND PROUD TO DO SO....YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY TO OWN YOUR OWN BUSINESS."
Undeterred, Fraschilla has now started a Change.org petition hoping to force the Whitebriar B&B owners to apologise saying;
"I believe that everyone has the right to their own opinion, but to demonize them [LGBT people] with hurtful words in a public forum is inhumane."
When contacted by LGBTQNation Monday, the bed & breakfast refused comment.