A Detroit-area mother says her bisexual son suffered severe abuse at school after coming out, including a beating that left him with a concussion, and that the bullying led him to attempt suicide. Now she’s suing his school district.
Traci Matuschek’s son, identified only as ZB in court filings, is a sophomore at Sterling Heights High School, part of Warren Consolidated Schools in the suburbs of Detroit. He came out as bi in August to his fellow players on the junior varsity football team, right before school began, because “he thought they were his friends, like family,” Matuschek told the Macomb Daily. He had been subjected to antigay bullying before that, during his freshman year on the football team in 2018-2019, she said.
After he came out, though, the bullying only got worse.
“He was called a ‘faggot’ and ‘fag’ and asked if he looks at other players’ genitalia in the locker room or gets sexually excited while playing, among other remarks,” the Macomb Daily reports.
In October, one of his teammates stomped on his head, causing a concussion even though ZB was wearing a helmet, according to Matuschek. While he was out of school recovering, his fellow players harassed him online. “He ended up being cyberbullied so bad he quit the team,” she told NBC News. Then in November, he attempted suicide. He was hospitalized for a week for psychiatric treatment.
Matuschek said she informed administrators at the high school on a continual basis, but they took “no corrective action” or “minimal action,” according to her lawsuit, which she filed in March in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The suit alleges the school district violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans sex discrimination in education, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It seeks more than $75,000 in damages due to the emotional distress and loss of educational opportunities suffered by ZB, attorneys’ fees.
An attorney for the school district declined comment to the Macomb Daily, saying the district does not speak publicly about pending litigation.