Monday, September 9, 2013

Billy Lucas- The third anniversary

By Brody Levesque |  CARMEL -- Three years ago today, on September 9, 2010, Billy (William) Lucas, a 15-year-old from Greensburg, Indiana was found dead in a barn at his grandmother’s home. He had hanged himself.
While Billy never self-identified as gay, friends said he was tormented for years because other kids thought he was gay.
Billy took his own life just hours after fellow students told him he didn't deserve to live.
Ann Lucas said her son Billy talked to her just days before his suicide about being bullied. “He told me ‘Mom, you don’t know what it’s like to walk down the halls of school and be afraid of who’s going to hit you, who’s going to kick you.'"
Billy’s death was the first widely reported teen suicide in September of 2010 — within weeks, America and the world would come to know the names of at least ten more gay, or perceived gay, teens — each who would take their own life to escape the physical and emotional torture inflicted upon them by bullies.
Last year, Lucas' mother filed a lawsuit against against the Greensburg Community School Corporation school district and four of its employees, claiming that Billy was targeted because of his learning disability, ethnicity and because some classmates thought he was gay. 
Tom Blessing, then counsel for the family told media outlets, “To the extent the school let him be subjected to this kind of torment is inexcusable. The school violated the law by not taking steps to protect him.” 
In an interview today from his offices in Carmel, Blessing, who now works for another law firm, said that the suit was settled quietly last spring [2013] with a confidentiality agreement in place that prevents discussion or disclosure of the settlement by all parties.
Blessing told LGBTQ Nation that as he prepared to move the case forward in the court, it became increasingly difficult to gather the requisite depositions or to have witnesses testify. He noted that it seemed as though the momentum caused by the publicity surrounding Lucas' suicide had just ground to an abrupt halt.
Blessing said that he still regards what happened to Billy Lucas as a travesty and a tragedy.
The news of Billy’s death was the catalyst that prompted nationally syndicated columnist Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller, both victims of bullying during their youth, to launch the “It Gets Better” project in the fall of 2010.
Within two months, the “It Gets Better Project” evolved into a worldwide movement, and to-date has inspired more than 30,000 user-created videos and over 40 million views, including messages by President Barack Obama and the First Lady, aimed a providing hope and encouragement to LGBT youth.
Meanwhile, back in Greensburg where Billy would have been entering his Senior year, there is a sense of profound silence.