NEW YORK, October 27, 2011 - The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and its Northeast Ohio, Greater Cincinnati and Dayton chapters today expressed outrage over a violent student bullying incident in Union-Scioto High School in Chillicothe, Ohio.
This week, students at Union-Scioto High School watched as a student waited for a gay student to arrive in the classroom before shoving him to the ground and punching the gay student repeatedly in the face. The vicious assault was captured on a student's cell phone and posted to Facebook.
"We are deeply disturbed to learn of yet another horrifying bullying incident, this time at Union-Scioto High School," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. "The gay student sustained a possible concussion to the head and dental injuries from the bully's assault simply because of the victim's sexual orientation. On the tail end of National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month, this brutal attack should be a call to action for everyone in Ohio to ensure that schools are safe for all students."
According to an Ohio research brief based on data from GLSEN's 2009 National School Climate Survey, 1 in 4 LGBT students in Ohio experience physical assault (e.g., punched, kicked or injured with a weapon) at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
The student shared on a local news interview that anti-gay bullying was a regular experience and the same attacker recently commented on the student's picture posted on Facebook stating, "Check out the definition of a faggot."
GLSEN research findings also found that nearly 61% of LGBT students in Ohio experience harassment or are threatened by their peers via electronic mediums including text messages, emails, or postings on social networking sites like Facebook, often known as cyberbullying.
The unidentified student bully received a 3-day suspension for his actions as outlined in the Union-Scioto High School student handbook. Currently, the school district does not include sexual orientation or gender identity in its anti-bullying policy.
"It is extremely frustrating for us at GLSEN to watch a student get bullied when there are tools and resources that are proven to reduce and prevent similar incidents from taking place in a classroom or hallway," said Byard. "School districts with comprehensive anti-bullying policies inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity are effective at curbing anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. It is time for the Union-Scioto Local School District and every school in Ohio to protect students from the kind of torment that everyone has witnessed on video."
Currently, an anti-bullying law is pending in Ohio's state legislature. Ohio House Bill 208 proposes the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity among other enumerated protections to the state's existing anti-bullying law.
"GLSEN, our local chapters and student organizers in Ohio are working closely with Equality Ohio, the statewide LGBT rights organization, to address bullying in the Union-Scioto Local School District and other school districts throughout the state of Ohio," said Byard. "With these diligent efforts, we hope that Ohio will become the 15th state in the country to protect students from bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity."
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.