Bullycide: Billy Lucas's Story 2010
2010 Bullycide Victim
Billy Lucas was 15-years-old when he committed suicide after years of relentless bullying. He attended Greensburg Community School District in Greensburg, Ind. Billy was a freshman at the local school where the bullying went on, without ever being addressed by staff, teachers, or administrators.
The first statement released by Phil Chappel, an administrator at the school where Billy attended, stated that there was no knowledge of any bullying. Friends contradicted this statement by stating the bullying was constant.
"Some people at school called him names," student Nick Hughes
It was based namely on his sexual orientation and the child couldn't fight back.
Billy Lucas was found dead in his barn, September 9, 2010. He had hung himself from the rafters of the barn on the family property.
The night before he died, his mother last saw him at around eight in the evening. She states that he had gone out to "put up the horses." Earlier in the day, Billy had actually been suspended form school because of his reaction to a female classmates harassment. His reaction was a lot of profanity. Another classmate stated,
“the bullies would call Billy, ‘gay and tell him to go kill himself’”
Hughes, a friend of Billy's, stated,
'He would try to but people would just try to break him down with words and stuff and just pick on him,'
Right before he hung himself, Billy dialed 911 and told the dispatcher to send someone out to his home. His reason was "causing problems for his mother." His mom told them there wasn't any issues. She left him alone to "cool down" and have alone time and next thing she knows he is dead.
Even after the suicide, a blog written by Dan Savage on blogtown wrote, that homophobic and hate messages were being left on his memorial facebook page. There was also (one of many) facebook groups formed that uploaded images of Billy that were degrading and vulgar.
Gretchen Miller, a previous student at the same school Billy attended, read the messages and was horrified at what was being said and posted.
"You would think this would open people's eyes, especially the school system,"
Gretchen was actually a drop-out and was a 19-year-old that could sympathize with Billy. She dropped out due to the harassment and bullying she, herself, had received. She also stated that it didn't surprise her that Chapelle had stated they had no idea the child was being bullied because they had known she was and had done nothing, also stating they weren't aware there was a situation in need of their attention.
"I was in his office almost on a daily basis,"
On one occasion she recalls that she refused to go to school because the bullying had gotten s bad, but Chapelle had come personally to her house and dragged her to school.
- Indiana Teen Commits Suicide After Anti-Gay Bullying at School| News | Towleroad
Tragic news to report from Indiana. 15-year-old Billy Lucas' suicide appears to have been inspired by anti-gay bullying at school. Reports local station WXIN:
IT GETS BETTER BLOG
Bullying Prevention and Strategies for Schools
IT GETS BETTER PROJECT
The "It Gets Better Project" was inspired by Billy Lucas's death.
The purpose of the cause is to remind kids that they are not alone in the LGBT community.
"It Gets Better" is now a worldwide movement that has inspired others to create over 60,000 videos and those videos have been viewed cumulatively 50 million times or more. Many people have submitted their information to join the cause. It includes celebrities, other organizations, activists from different causes, people in the media and even politicians.
Some of the individuals that have submitted a pledge to "It Gets Better Project" are:
- BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
- HILARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE
- REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI
- ANNE HATHAWAY, ACTRESS (PRINCESS DIARIES)
- COLIN FARRELL, ACTOR (S.W.A.T)
- JOEL MADDEN
- KE$HA, SINGER
- ELLEN DEGENERES, ACTRESS AND TELEVISIN PERSONALITY (ELLEN)
- THE GAP
- FACEBOOK www.facebook.com/itgetsbetterproject
- PIXAR (FILM COMPANY)
AND MANY MORE
For general informatin you can email: email@example.com
You can also write and send mail to: It Gets Better Project 8023 Beverly Blvd. #191 Los Angeles, CA 90048
There are several ways that you can get involved in this cause.
- Donate: helps project to raise awareness as well as provide suicide prevention programs and also anti bullying campaigns and programs.
- Record: They request your recorded videos to be sent to them if you wish
- Share: To share your story with the project and community, if you don't have a video recorder, they invite you to send them your story and will plan on sharing those in the coming months.
- Take the pledge
Mrs. Lucas Speaks to Media
Anniversary of Death Brings Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against School District
In 2010, a suicide victim because of bullying was 15-years-old. Billy Lucas's tragedy sparked awareness of the treatment for real (or) perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
The 2-year anniversary of Billy's death (2012) is marked by the family suing Greensburg Community Junior High School. They filed the suit because the Junior High provided no protection from bullying. There is also a possiblity that the school contributed to the harassment.
The lawsuit states that Lucas had emotional and learning disabilities. Included in the disabilities was Attention deficit hyperacivity disorder or ADHD. It further describes the bullying. Lucas was bullied for being bi-racial (for his mixed ethnicity), and for the perception he was gay.
Behavior did not conform to traditional male stereotypes.
Lucas was physically attacted (hit, bit, pushed) all the time for these things by other students at the school.
The Principal Rodney King and the Assistant Principal David Strouse were implicated directly in the lawsuit.
King and Strouse had actual knowledge that W.L. was being harassed but turned a blind eye to the harassment. At one point King told W.L., “If someone beat you up, I wouldn’t know whether to give him an award or suspend him.”[...]
Ramp and Kovacich witnessed students harassing and bullying W.L. on multiple occasions yet did nothing to prevent or stop it. In fact, Ramp and Kovacich not only ignored the harassment of W.L. by other students at the School, but in some cases encouraged and even actively participated in the harassment of W.L. themselves. Ramp and Kovacich verbally insulted, ridiculed, and abused W.L. in front of his peers on multiple occasions.
Billy was eligible for special education services due to his disabilites and was under an Indivdualized Education Plan (or) an IEP.
According to the lawsuit; other students, teachers, staff, and administrators ALL described Billy as, "different". The reason that they viewed the child this way had to do with ethnicity and manifestations of negative behaviors.
The fact that Billy was on an IEP and that he had emotional problems and was on an IEP, its very disturbing that even the school would deem the child in such a manner. That they wouldn't have protected him to a greater extent. The children with different kinds of disabilities, are more vulnerable to bullying as it is. The child shouldn't have been in any situation or envirnoment that he wasn't supervised by an adult. That is my opinion because of the years of my own son being on an IEP for Autism, and that is definately a disorder that is prone to bullying, but my son's school's have always protected him. I don't understand why these administrators didn't defend and protect him and I feel the lawsuit is justified.
The lawsuit further states that the bullying happened for several years and during school hours. Any and all of the bullying was on District property. There were many instances that the bullying happened IN FRONT of employees of the school and/or district. The principal and assistant principal had direct knowledge of the sexual harrasment and other bullying. Under district and school policy, the students that bullied Billy Lucas were subject to disciplinary actions.
The defendents did not investigate nor did the discipline the perpetrators of the harassment per district policy.
"Failure to take disciplinary action...envinces a deliberate indifference to the peer-on-peer sexual harrassment...."
The failure to take action was allowing the harrassment to continue.
Rodney King was reported on saying to Billy Lucas,
"If someone beat you up, I wouldn't know whether to give him an award or suspend him."
A third part of the lawsuit is suing for "wrongful death."
The district failed in its duty to provide a safe environment for Billy Lucas. As a direct result of their failure to intervene and follow their obligations, the child committed suicide.
What Parents Hope To Gain From Lawsuit
The parents of Billy Lucas have stated what they hope to gain from the lawsuit, it is described under "relief sought" in the lawsuit.
They request a judgement in their favor against the defendants. Monetary compensation to be determined at the trial. They request punitive damages to such a degree that it is a negative impact on defendants and that will ensure it won't happen again. Also, they request their attorney and court fees be paid for by defendants.
The lawsuit was filed in September of 2012.