Parents Sue Ohio School to Implement Anti-Bullying Program after Son Takes His Own Life
April 3, 2009 - The parents of an Ohio boy who took his own life two years ago after enduring constant anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying and harassment are suing Mentor High School in hopes the school will implement an effective and comprehensive anti-bullying program. According to the lawsuit filed last week in federal court, classmates targeted 17-year-old Eric Mohat with taunts such as "gay," "fag," "queer" and "homo," often in front of teachers, but the school did next to nothing to address the problem. Mohat's parents told ABC News that their son did not identify as gay...
Nearly two-thirds of LGBT students (60.8%) who experience harassment or assault never reported the incident to the school, according to the GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students. The most common reason given was that they didn't believe anything would be done to address the situation. Of those who did report the incident, nearly a third (31.1%) said the school staff did nothing in response. Anti-LGBT taunts are also widely used against all students, not just LGBT-identified. Two of the top three reasons students said their peers are harassed in school are actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to the 2005 GLSEN/Harris Interactive Report, From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America. The problem is even worse for LGBT students. Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (86.2%) reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, nearly half (44.1%) reported being physically harassed and about a quarter (22.1%) reported being physically assaulted, according to the 2007 National School Climate Survey. Additionally 60.8% of LGBT students said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and nearly a third (32.7%) said they had missed a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe...
Ohio does not specifically protect students from bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Only 11 states and the District of Columbia protect based on sexual orientation, and only seven and the District of Columbia protect based on gender identity/expression.
Does this make you as angry as it makes me? See GLSEN's Tools and Tips for what you can do to make your school a safer place for all. If you are an Ohio resident, register for Equality Ohio's Lobby Day.
In related news regarding legislative protection for LGBTQIA people, keep an eye out for news relating to the EHEA (Equal Housing and Employment Act) legislation - it's being re-introduced.
I attended the CAUSE conference at BGSU this weekend. One thing that someone said struck me: legislators are not leaders. They are followers. They follow their perception of what voters in their district are thinking. So let's let them know what we are thinking. The person from Equality Ohio at CAUSE who spoke about EHEA did not think that we had the support to get it passed this year (but that it might pass next year). I say we ought to do everything within our power to make this the year. If you're at OSU, consider joining the Equality Coalition. More on EHEA as the story develops.