Second School Beating in Ohio; Felony Charged in the First

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com November 03 2011 2:21 PM ET

Felony charges were filed today against the Ohio student whose attack on a gay student was videotaped and posted online, according to local news reports. And now a
second attack is being investigated for being hate-motivated.

The Ross County prosecutor had been investigating the extent of the 15-year-old victim's injuries in the first attack to see whether they rose to the level of a felony charge. And the Columbus Dispatchreports that the attacker, identified now as 15-year-old Levi Sever, will next have to appear in juvenile court.

The victim's mother, Rebecca Collins, had called for "hate crime" charges in the case because Sever had posted antigay slurs on her son's Facebook page days before the attack, and because her son faced constant taunting for years before based on his sexual orientation.

"It's my son," she said, "and they did it just because he's a homosexual."

The victim is now being identified as Zachary Huston, and he's getting support from more than 30,000 people who signed a petition on Change.org calling for Union-Scioto High School and the school district to adopt an anti-discrimination and anti-bullying policy that includes sexual orientation.

But even those policies aren't sure-fire solutions to preventing future attacks, as proven by another beating in an Ohio school reported by Equality Ohio this week.

A freshman at Westerville South High School was called “fag” and “faggot” while being beaten up, and was then left with a concussion, according to an account of the fight from his mother. The student does not identify as gay but has a lesbian sister, and that's made him the target of bullying for four years, the mother says.

The school district in that case does have an inclusive antibullying policy, and it's investigating to see what happened, and which punishment is appropriate. The district got so much attention in local media after Equality Ohio sent a news release that it issued a statement saying no punishment had yet been decided on.

"No discipline has been or will be administered for either student until the investigation is complete," the district insisted, despite reports of a five-day suspension for the attacker.

Equality Ohio is calling for passage of an antibullying bill already proposed at the state level, called The School Day Security and Antibullying Act. It would require students be taught about bullying.

"Just suspending students isn't the answer to bullying," said Kim Welter, the group's director of programs and outreach, in an interview on WBNS 10 TV News. "We need to be doing a whole lot more talking about how we treat each other and that we respect each other and that no bullying is tolerated."