An American gay student who was beaten in class is planning to sue the school for failing to protect him from continued bullying.
Zachary Huston (15) was attacked by fellow student Levi Sever (15) at Unioto High School on October 17, apparently because of his sexual orientation.
Zach suffered physical injuries as a result of the beating and, to make matters worse, the assault was recorded by another student on a cell phone and posted online.
According to Zach’s family, he has been the victim of escalating verbal and physical school bullying for at least a year.
His mother, Rebecca Collins, claims that she reported the incidents to the school several times, but no action was taken.
“This has been an ongoing nightmare for our family. No parent wants to see their child in danger, and it has been a constant fear that Zach or one of our loved ones would be harmed,” she said.
“Through Zach’s ordeal, I hope schools recognise they must take reports of bullying seriously and educate others on how it affects families.”
In an interview with 10TV, Zach said that instead of it taking action against the bullies he was told by the school that he should “tone [himself] down” to stop drawing attention to himself.
At a press conference on Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio announced it is representing Zach’s family and is considering a range of legal actions to protect him and other students from future instances of bullying.
“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,” added Hardiman.
The ACLU has sent a letter to school officials inviting them to discuss solutions before formal legal action is filed.
Watch a video interview with Zach’s mother and footage of the beating below.