A mother is suing a school district which she claims did nothing to stop the relentless homophobic bullying that drove her son to attempt suicide.
Traci Matuschek has launched a federal lawsuit against Warren Consolidated Schools over an alleged campaign of abuse at Sterling Heights High School in Michigan.
Her 15-year-old son came out as bisexual to his football teammates in August 2018, believing they’d support him as “he thought they were his friends, like family”.
Unfortunately his peers weren’t as supportive as he’d hoped and he was subjected to vicious homophobic bullying, with some of his teammates at the centre of it.
“He was getting gay-bashed in school,” Matuschek told the Macomb Daily. “He quit something he loved. He played football since he was in the seventh grade.”
15-year-old was called a ‘fag’ and physically assaulted.
Students reportedly called him a “fag,” a “faggot,” and asked if he looked at other players’ genitalia in the locker room or got aroused while playing.
By October the bullying had escalated to physical violence, and on one occasion a football player allegedly stamped on his head until he got a concussion.
According to the suit, the school didn’t provide Matuschek’s son with any medical attention or discipline the student who stomped on him. A complaint filed with police also failed to bring any charges against the student.
“As a direct result of the severe harassment, [the boy] became socially withdrawn, became frightened of the school environment, suffered academically and fell into deep depression,” the lawsuit says.
Teenager attempted suicide after homophobic bullying.
His mother said school officials were fully aware of the bullying but failed to take action, effectively ignoring it until it was too late and the boy attempted suicide.
Fortunately his parents were able to intervene, but the incident has left him with severe emotional trauma.
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“He’s afraid to go to the park or anywhere because he’s constantly looking over his shoulder,” Matuschek said, noting that several of the bullies live in the local area.
She alleges the school district violated her son’s civil rights based on sexual orientation and sex, as well as violated the 14th Amendment, equal protection and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender.
The lawsuit is seeking more than $75,000 in damages for emotional distress and “loss of educational opportunities,” along with attorney fees.
The school district has refused to comment on the lawsuit.
The Samaritans are the UK’s suicide reduction charity and their free helpline number is 116 123.