Recent cases of bullying in Ohio and nationwide have shed new light on the challenges many students experience every day. In April 2011, the ACLU of Ohio sent a letter to school superintendents around the state urging them to adopt proactive bullying policies that balance education and discipline.
In October, 2011 a Chillicothe-area freshman named Zach was assaulted by a fellow student in his high school classroom because of his sexual orientation. In the days following the attack, a video of the incident was posted online. Watch Zach tell his story on YouTube or below.
Zach’s experience has sparked national outrage and drawn even more attention to the issue of school bullying. The ACLU of Ohio has taken action to protect Zach and other students from future instances of bullying. Watch Zach’s story below.
In December 2011, the ACLU offered testimony to the Ohio Senate Education Committee showing support for new anti-bullying legislation. The ACLU also testified on the constitutional limits schools and the legislature face when addressing “cyber-bullying,” which often happens outside of school.
On February 2, 2012, Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 116, also known as the Jessica Logan Act, into law. The bill requires school staff to obtain training to prevent bullying, mandates that parents receive annual notification of school bullying policies and extends those anti-bullying to school buses.
The ACLU welcomes these long overdue changes, but calls for additional protections on the state and federal level, including enumeration of specific factors that place students in immediate need of protection from bullying, factors such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. Only with these tools will schools be fully equipped to foster a positive learning environment for all young people.