NEW YORK - The following is a statement from GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard about the news of a second anti-LGBT student assault in an Ohio school in two weeks. On Tuesday, November 1, a 9th grade student at Westerville South High School in Westerville, Ohio was called anti-gay slurs including "fag" and "faggot" because of his perceived sexual orientation and his assailant delivered several punches to the head before a teacher intervened. The student sustained a concussion and required urgent medical attention.
The victim does not identify as gay, but has been harassed for being perceived to be gay. The student has also experienced bullying for the past four years because of having a lesbian sister. The student's attacker will be suspended from the high school for five days in addition to his class schedule being altered to limit future contact with the victim.
This is the second reported incident of an anti-gay student assault. Just two weeks ago, a 15-year-old student at Unioto High School in Chillicothe, Ohio was severely beaten for being gay as another student captured the assault on their cell phone and posted it to Facebook.
"The disturbing incident at Westerville South High School only serves to underscore the nationwide crisis of anti-LGBT bullying, which affects all students in school," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "For the student attending Westerville South High School, his perceived sexual orientation resulted in a serious head injury and left him unable to attend school for at least a week. We know this student assault is not an isolated incident - 1 in 4 LGBT students in Ohio experience physical assault at school because of their sexual orientation. We cannot allow a culture of acceptance for harassment and bullying to persist in schools or else we fail all students. GLSEN, our local chapters and student organizers in Ohio will continue to work with our partners including Equality Ohio to address these incidents of anti-LGBT student harassment and assault in Ohio's school system."
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.