A school district in Michigan has been sued by a mother who said her bisexual son was so badly bullied by fellow students that he attempted suicide.
Traci Matuschek is suing Warren Consolidated Schools in a federal lawsuit, after alleged bullying at Sterling Heights High School in Sterling Heights, Mich.
Matuschek said her 15-year-old son came out as bisexual in August last year, but was subsequently “gay-bashed” by students to such an extreme that he dropped out of the school’s junior varsity football team in October and attempted suicide in November, the Macomb Daily reports.
“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.”
Matuschek said her son came out because “he thought they were his friends, like family,” but instead he was called a number of anti-gay slurs including “fag” and “faggot.”
Prior to leaving the team in October, a player stomped on the boy’s head so severely that, despite his helmet, he suffered a concussion, Matuschek’s lawsuit alleges.
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.
Matuschek’s son didn’t receive any medical attention until that evening, when he told his parents what had happened, the lawsuit alleges. A hospital later diagnosed him with concussion.
The school was “continually informed” about the bullying by Matuschek “and the effect that it was having,” according to the lawsuit.
Matuschek claims that the school was aware of the harassment, but that officials failed to respond.
“As a direct result of the severe harassment, (the boy) became socially withdrawn, became frightened of the school environment, suffered academically and fell into deep depression,” the lawsuit states.
In November he attempted suicide, but was stopped when his parents found him, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit accuses the school of violating the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, as well as violating Matuschek’s son’s civil rights based on sexual orientation and sex. The family is seeking more than $75,000 in damages, citing “loss of educational opportunities” and emotional distress.
The school district has yet to file a response. An attorney for the district said it won’t comment on pending litigation.
Matuschek told the Macomb Daily that the COVID-19 pandemic has offered something of a reprieve for her son, but he remains frightened to go outside because some of the students who bullied him live in their neighborhood.
“He’s afraid to go to the park or anywhere because he’s constantly looking over his shoulder,” she said.
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