School allowed anti-gay abuse of teen, lawsuit claims

A Michigan mother is accusing her local school district in a lawsuit of not protecting her 15-year-old son from months of anti-gay bullying and abuse from his classmates.

“Throughout his high school career, ZB has been subjected to severe and pervasive harassment based upon his sexual orientation and his sex,” the lawsuit, filed in March, states. “As a direct result of the severe harassment, ZB became socially withdrawn, became frightened of the school environment, suffered academically and fell into a deep depression.”

Traci Matuschek, whose son is referred to only as ZB in court filings, “continually informed” officials at Sterling Heights High School, which is part of the Detroit-area Warren Consolidated Schools district, about the harassment her son was facing and the effect it had on him, but officials either took “no corrective action” or “minimal action,” according to the suit.

“The school is supposed to protect them,” Matuschek, who said the student bullies did not face repercussions, told NBC News. “I was livid.”

An official with the school district declined an interview request, saying the district cannot comment on pending litigation.

Matuschek said her son came out as bisexual to his junior varsity football teammates in August 2019, just ahead of the school year. “He thought they were all his friends,” she said.

After her son came out, however, Matuschek said his teammates started to bully him with homophobic slurs and remarks. According to the lawsuit, they would ask ZB questions about whether he would get aroused if he tackled them on the field or if he would look at them naked in the locker room.