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Indiana kid bullied to death

Timothy Kincaid

September 14th, 2010

I’m usually detached enough that this stuff doesn’t get to me. But for some reason, Billy Lucas’ story has me on the verge of tears. (Fox 59)

He was a teenager who didn’t quite fit in. His classmates said Billy Lucas was bullied for being different.

The 15-year-old never told anyone he was gay but students at Greensburg High School thought he was and so they picked on him.

“People would call him ‘fag’ and stuff like that, just make fun of him because he’s different basically,” said student Dillen Swango.

Students told Fox59 News it was common knowledge that children bullied Billy and from what they said, it was getting worse. Last Thursday, Billy’s mother found him dead inside their barn. He had hung himself.

I am sick of reading this story over and over and over and the only change is the name. But I am even more sick, disgusted, and outraged at hearing “I didn’t know” excuses and blame-the-victim justifications from administrators who ignored the abuse – often deliberately.

YouTube Preview Image

This time the ‘I Don’t Give A Damn Award’ goes to Principal Phil Chapple, who had no idea that Lucas was being bullied. Nope, no clue.

But he did say this:

“Sometimes he created that atmosphere around him,” Chappel said. “Kind of like a little tornado because he went around doing things that made dust fly, I guess.”

So Chappel saw dust fly, but never noticed that kids were threatening Billy every day. Un-huh. And he admits that his problems were because “people found out who he was.”

So I guess Chappel’s version is that Billy “created that atmosphere” by being “who he was” and “went around doing things” that “made dust fly” but Chappel never noticed any bullying, no sir. In his rush to blame Lucas for his own mistreatment, Chappel didn’t even see the internal contradiction in his own story.

So now that the news cameras are on him, what is Chappel doing? Is he contacting GLSEN? Is he instating long-tested anti-bullying programs? Is he letting the teachers know that there will be no tolerance for anti-gay bullying? Is he even acknowledging that this has LONG been a problem at Greensburg High? (Eyewitness News)

school administrators met Monday to discuss forming a committee that would include students and parents to help battle the bullying issues

Chappel’s newfound awareness of bullying is total bull. Another previous student – one who survived his own suicide attempt – told school officials about his anti-gay bullying. They did nothing.

I guess Chappel thought that he too “created that atmosphere.”

Comments

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TJMcFisty
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

He had a tendency to exist. Why not just say that, Chappel? Actually, with your attitude, Chappel, you might as well have just pinned the kid down while he was bullied. A$$hole.

I’ve been right where that kid was only much earlier than high school. Parents no help. School no help–of course not, it was a fundie school. Only way I got through it is that one friend told me that once we got to high school we could avoid them much easier. And she was right for the most part. And we were reassured that once out of high school, the world was open to us. It was all “light at the end of the tunnel”. Never have to see these people again if we don’t want. And never have since.

Crap way to get by, but patience won out. I just want better for these kids cuz they just shouldn’t have to suffer with all the modern conveniences and networks we have now.

Tone
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

This breaks my heart, how many more kids do we have to lose before school principals and administrators are held criminally responsible for allowing the bullying environment to flourish? Saying they didn’t know is not an excuse anymore. There has been enough public discourse about school bullying that EVERY school, public and private, should have programs in place to identify trouble spots and intervene before something this tragic happens. At the very least the leaders should be terminated for their incompetence.

Emily K
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

Once again:

this kid was NOT gay.

[whether he knew he was gay inside is irrelevant.]

he was NOT bullied for being out n’ proud, or being open about who he found attractive.

He was bullied because the bullies THOUGHT he was gay. And that was all they needed.

How exactly is enacting anti-bullying measures forwarding a “gay agenda,” again? Because as far as I can tell, this a STRAIGHT kid that met his end because he was bullied for “being gay.”

TampaZeke
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

Or as the district superintendent of the school district in MN where there have been THREE gay teen suicides in the last year, said, they have to be careful to be neutral in these bullying cases so as to not offend the opinions and beliefs of the bullies and their parents. It’s very important to not take sides in these cases. So what if a few gay kids commit suicide, as long as none of the anti-gay Christians feel the slightest bit of discomfort. We must maintain balance.

TampaZeke
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

It’s a good thing that kids today don’t care about gay issues and are our hope for the future with their gay positive, or at least “gay, who cares” attitudes.

Isn’t that the line we keep being sold.

Just more of gay leaders trying to make things sound better than they really are. They bend over backwards to make anti-gay people sound gay supportive. They go out of their way to make non-apologies for gay slurs sound like real, heartfelt apologies. They go out of their way to convince us that Obama, and Democrats and America are supportive of us, in spite of our lying eyes.

I just wish people would stop selling us a bill of goods so that we can know what we’re up against. I’d rather know the ugly truth than be told that everything is rosy when we’re actually deep in the shitter.

Emily K
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

TampaZeke, even 10 years ago when i was this kid’s age my school had a “gay? who cares?” attitude. Why are these things still happening is what i want to know.

Everett
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

This is so tragic. I guess instituting anti-bullying programs at school can be of help, but frankly until our entire American culture changes, I don’t think school kids will stop using anti-gay slurs and bullying gay and lesbian kids. From my experience, teachers and school administrators at public schools are socially ignorant. Most just have a Bachelors degree (and a teaching certificate) in the one subject they teach, and they don’t think outside the box much in their everyday lives. Sadly, some of the most socially ignorant and thoughtless people I have met in my life have been public school teachers. Many just don’t think on the same level that other educational professionals (Ph.Ds, adjunct faculty at evening schools and community colleges), so I wouldn’t expect them to be on the forefront of protecting ALL students and making students better people.

David Malcolm
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

Thankfully in high school I was bullied for being the really Christian kid. It wasn’t until I was in bible college that I had to deal with people hating me for being gay, and even then the majority of the student body loved me. I can’t imagine how bad it is for these kids to deal with actually being bullied for being gay. It was hard enough for me to wonder if they knew I was gay when they said the normal slurs kids say to everyone.

Tommy
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

Another victory for Candi Cushman and Focus on the Family.

I really hope someone sends her this and tells her that her activism helped kill this child.

We, as a community, are far too polite. Anyone, and I do mean anyone, who stands in the way of anti-bullying programs had a hand in this child’s death.

Regan DuCasse
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

It’s not like adults would accept this treatment from someone in their workplace. There are laws and litigation options that protect adults.

It’s not like gangs of gay kids get together and torment straight kids for being straight.
But apparently just rumor, innuendo and inference is enough for the little savages to have a go. No matter the orientation of the target.

It’s not like a band of kids get together and torment the principal. Maybe he SHOULD have his car vandalized. Maybe he should be shoved, or hit and called ‘fag’ to his face.
Maybe, he should be ignored when he wants help for it.

Even this boy’s death didn’t move him to do something decisive in the way of prevention. He’s only concerned with blaming the boy because he likely suspects the kid was gay too. And this has all the earmarks of the principal covering his cowardly ass.

Any sense of persecution the anti gay have. Or how many of them won’t let the El Coyote issue go, infuriates me no end.
El Coyote was no kind of tragedy. It was people rightly responding to a business owner they helped prosper, who felt no reciprocity and betrayed them.

THIS boy’s death, and the fire bombing of a lesbian couple’s home in Tenn. ARE tragedies.
And I’m sick and tired of these whining, candy assed homophobes talking as if THEY are suffering because gay people want to prevent these unnecessary and PREVENTABLE and horribly tragic and VICIOUS actions on the part of the people who are their audience.

Jon
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

TampaZeke, there are no gay leaders anywhere who have claimed that things are perfect in any particular place or with any particular age group. And events like this remind us that we still have a long way to go. But there’s also no point in us ignoring how far we have come in so many ways and in so many places.

There are over 27,000 public high schools in the U.S. There are around 4,000 gay/straight alliances in U.S. schools (including clubs in private schools and schools other than high schools). I’m sure it still sucks to be gay at most of the 23,000 schools without a GSA, and probably at some of the schools that have one. But when I graduated from high school in 1987, there wasn’t one GSA anywhere.

We have to appreciate the progress we’ve made while remembering how far we still have to go. Doing just one or the other is a waste of time.

Timothy Kincaid
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

Jon,

I too want note all the progress made. However, I want to give one correction and a shout out to Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, about a mile from where I am sitting.

In 1984, Virginia Uribe, a teacher at Fairfax, started Project 10, the first support group for gay students after a kid named Chris dropped out due to bullying.

The fundies went wild and threatened to block all state funding for the LA Unified School District, but Uribe and the district stood their ground and the project continues today in nearly every high school in the district. Unlike most GSAs, this is not just a student club but actually part of the district.

Emily K
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

I want to say that I give complete credit to the GSA started at my school by an awesome lesbian student in 1999. It opened with somewhat of a bang but soon became a normal part of extracurricular life. The presence of the GSA fostered an attitude of openness and willingness to question, as well as answer tough questions, that I don’t think would have been fostered as easily without it.

Paul J Stein
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

I was bullied the first day of high school , I put the kid in the hospital. The last words he heard out of me was, ” A faggot kicked your ass and I will kick anyone ass who has a problem with me being GAY, got it you ignorant bastards” I had a 7 day suspension and never was bullied again. Maybe an ass kicking of of officials is in order. The trial would be televised and the case made for “pre-protection” of gay and lesbian youth.

Lynn David
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

The school policy on bullying is in the school handbook.

SEVERE PENALTY POLICY
A severe penalty is recognized as a discipline measure that is used to correct or alter the disruptive behavior of a student. Wednesday School, suspension and/or suspension pending expulsion are the forms of severe penalties to be used. For severe penalties there will be parent/guardian contact. Students that are expelled or suspended from school shall not be on Greensburg Community School Corporation property or attend any school function during the time of this penalty without administrative authorization. Failure to comply will result in student being charged with trespass.
.
12. Bullying – “Bullying” refers to overt, repeated acts or gestures by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate or harm the other student. “Bullying” includes, but is not limited to, verbal or written communications that are transmitted, physical acts that are committed, or any other behaviors committed. Any student who believes he/she is being bullied should report the incident to a building administrator immediately.
.
a. Wednesday detention
b. Suspension
c. Suspension/expulsion

BTW… no GLSEN at Greensburg.

WMDKitty
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

Another one? Ffffuuu-

When will school administrators finally understand that, as the adults in charge, it is their responsibility to keep the students safe? When will they stop the bullying? How many more lives will be lost?

David C.
September 14th, 2010 | LINK

When will school administrators finally understand that, as the adults in charge, it is their responsibility to keep the students safe? —WMDKitty

When school administrators are charged with criminal negligence for failing to prevent bullying that leads to a death. Alternatively, when a very large award bankrupts a school district due to a civil judgement.

That day is coming and school administrators had better wake up before they find their backsides clapped into the clink, bankrupted or both.

MIhangel apYrs
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

and when a gay (or otherwise bullied) finally cracks and turns daddy’s fireams on his tormentors all sorts of crap will be fed to the media:
“outsider”, “loner”, “wouldn’t join in”, “not popular”;
never:
“we are ashamed to say we let the poor kid get bullied ‘cos he was gay”

Bullying is evil, and the duty of adults is to crush it, not allow their own prejudices get in the way of their absolute duty of care

Jordan
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

Sadly, I’m from Greensburg, IN. I didn’t go to the same school as him, but had it not been for the few resources I had outside of that town, this story very well could have been about me. It’s been 6 years since I left there, but this story still absolutely breaks my heart. Sadly, Chappel’s reaction doesn’t surprise me at all, either.

Fourteen is too young for anyone to die, especially by their own hand.

John
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

As with all too many of these cases, it is blame the victim. Blame the victim for daring to be different, daring to be himself or herself. “Diversity” seems to be just another buzzword.

Bernie
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

I hope a copy of this article was sent to FRC, AFA, NARTH, and, above all, Peter Labarbera. Add a notation asking them if they’re happy now.

Timothy (TRiG)
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

How many more times?

TRiG.

JimInMa
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

Gee, this is exactly what I went through in 8th grade. My parents and all my teachers knew what was going on, and wouldn’t do anything. Luckily I’ve always been taller than everyone else, or else I probably would have been beaten more often. I never *seriously* considered ending my own life, I just developed a superior attitude. Hey, if they thought I was *that* important to waste their time on, maybe I am :-)
Yes, it was always my fault for making them bully me. Uh huh. It’s funny that I never “acted” gay. I was just a quiet geeky tall skinny kid. Boys will be boys, and all that crap. I guess playing Lord of the Flies is what all teen boys have to go through. And their parents encourage them to beat up on others, lest they get beaten up themselves.
Do unto others before they do unto you!

Timothy Kincaid
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

Lynn David,

Thanks for the info

12. Bullying – “Bullying” refers to overt, repeated acts or gestures by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate or harm the other student. “Bullying” includes, but is not limited to, verbal or written communications that are transmitted, physical acts that are committed, or any other behaviors committed. Any student who believes he/she is being bullied should report the incident to a building administrator immediately.

This is exactly the sort of policy loved and supported by Focus on the Family and other anti-gay advocacy groups. It is non-specific, vague, and of no value at all to anyone. It even requires the victim to be the one to act. And, above all, it doesn’t say “don’t torment gay kids” which is FOTF’s biggest objection to real anti-bullying programs.

Remember, as Laurie Higgins said, it is the duty of Christian kids to create a culture of disapproval and condemnation.

Maurice Lacunza
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

To Tone: My first reaction is the same as yours; terminate the leaders who fail to protect children. However this could be the watershed moment for the school to make real changes.

CALL THE SCHOOL AND LET THEM KNOW PEOPLE CARE ABOUT THIS.

I called the school to express my support for them to look deeper at the harassment issue and to consider that it is an issue. I did receive a warm response from the woman who answered, for whatever that is worth.

Harassment Department:
Dr. Rodney King
Greensburg Community Schools
1312 W. Westridge Parkway
Greensburg, IN 47240
812-663-4774

customartist
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

So lemme get this srtraight…? It was Billy Lucas’ fault that he was bullied?

Students knew bullying of Billy to be “common knowledge”.

Principal Phil Chapple may have been unaware of the harassment before hand, but his comments subsequent to the incident are irresponsible, unforgivable, and hurtful. His mindset is crystal clear, and surely reflective of the Parents of the Bullies, who are the Real Perpetrators here. They instilled the concept that hate and bullying is A.O.K. Principal Chapple needs to go – Pronto! Reminds me of the 70’s when my day would complain about the “ni__ers”.

Have the parents reported this to the police as hate motivated? They should sue the School, the Principal, the Superintendent, the City, the Bullies AND the Parents of the Bullies collectively.

Teachers and Administrators are wholly responsible for knowing what is going on in schools. For this or any school to attempt to place all of the responsibility on underage students for reporting bullying (who may very well be afraid to do so) is a mis-application of responsibility.

The topics of Bullying and Tolerance are not cutting edge technologies; they are well known and widely accepted. Educators ESPECIALLY should know of these concepts and should be the very purveyors of the same. They have failed.

The same train of thought as Principal Phil Chapple’s used to be applied to Rape victims saying that “…it was her fault because she was wearing provocative clothing”.

Chapple must be made to either justify his “dust flying” comment, or made to apologize publicly. AND if he knew of the dust flying, then he was responsible for resolving it. Blaming the child after the fact is appalling. If this has “long been a problem” at Greensburg High(?), then the teachers and administrators have “long been incompetent” in their jobs.

Expressing concerns directly to the Principal will be ineffective. Contact the Superintendent and the School Board:

Mr. Tom Hunter, Superintendent Greensburg Community Schools
1312 W. Westridge Parkway
Greensburg, IN 47240
(812)663-4774
thunter@greensburg.k12.in.us

School Board Members
Lisa Tressler – President, ltressler@rbskpartners.com
1476 South County Rd., 480 East, Greensburg, IN

David Weigel – Vice President, djweigel@comcast.net
716 Kessler Blvd., Greensburg, IN

Valorie Moorman – Secretary, moormanv@purdue.edu
4848 South County Rd. 60 SW, Greensburg, IN

Dave Meyer- Member, Dsmeyer1@comcast.net
515 Sycamore Trail, Greensburg, IN

Al Moore – Member, Al.Moore@rbc.com
514 Baili Ct., Greensburg, IN

Tony Owens – Member, theowenszoo@etczone.com
614 N. Franklin St., Greensburg, IN

Steve Taylor – Member, sttaylorlaw@gmail.com
PO Box 125, Greensburg, IN

Jubie
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

It’s true that more & more kids are accepting of “gay…nah, who cares?” these days, but don’t delude yourselves into believing that this welcome attitude stretches across all state lines. It doesn’t.

We still have a long way to go towards acceptance, and we will most likely have to fight tooth and nail to get it.

I don’t understand why schools in America do not adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying. Well, actually, I do know why -it’s because of parental interference. Happens all the time and things have changed over the years to where parents bully school administrators into either winking or forgiving their children’s bad behavior.

This is not a welcome development so perhaps we should be lobbying our educational system directly to adopt policies which protect ALL kids from being bullied.

Maurice Lacunza
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

To Customartist:
Thank you for providing the additional emails. I called the school and got Tom Hunter’s email and sent a meaningful letter to him for forward to the Harassment Officer. I will cc it now to all the others. Thank you and good work getting the email addresses. The school website was missing that information.

Nelson Smith
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

I work with gay suicidal youth. Most have been bullied and “teachers” never seem to be there or notice it. I have prevented youth as young as 12 from committing suicide. One 6th grader, whose sister I prevented from committing suicide [she tried to burn herself to death], was told by his teacher in front of his entire class, “You must be gay like your sister”. The teacher said this because the boy was wearing an earring.
Some homeless gay youth who lived by the river near our local library would visit it to get warm and dry. At that time a Christian man came in, saw that a youth was reading a Seattle paper that catered to gays and those who support them, and let this youth know what an ungodly kid he was and then demanded that the library quit carrying the paper [it was not porn] or any like publication. The library complied. I tried to get the paper put back in, including publications that would help gay youth. The local librarian was sympathetic but the county head said, “No”.
I would sit in the library reading the Time issue that addressed gay youth hoping to meet this “gentleman” but he didn’t show up when I was there.
I wrote our local Senator about gay bullying, suicide etc to which she replied, “Gays don’t need special protection”. She is a right wing Christian whose Bible beliefs rise above the welfare and safety of a child. The cities where I have tried to help these youth are Sumner, Pacific, Algona, and Auburn, Washington.
Lamda Legal was going to go with me to talk to the school but the boy’s mother said no. It was these same parents who asked for my help about their daughter. We met at Denny’s. When I told them they needed to love their suicidal gay daughter unconditionally they said “We can’t” and that she would go to hell unless she changed. When I repeated that they needed to love their daughter the father slid his Bible across the table to me and said, “We can’t. I believe this”.

Rob San Diego
September 15th, 2010 | LINK

I like many others have gone through the same S%!t. Mine started in the 5th grade and went till the end of high school. Though it did start to get better around my sophomore year of high school once I found the drama crowd to be pretty accepting of me. Though I never even told anyone about myself till my freshman year.

Bill Perdue
September 16th, 2010 | LINK

The facts show the great danger facing LGBT youth. A 2009 study, “Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes” by San Francisco State University, shows that adolescents rejected by their families for being LGBT were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide. And for every completed suicide by a young person, it is estimated that 100 to 200 attempts are made (2003 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey).

The best way to stop this is for our legal organizations to step in and aid GLBT youth by launching financially crippling lawsuits against the bigots, whether they’re schools, parents, politicians or cult ‘reeducation’ camps. The Southern Poverty Law Center used that strategy to financially break the KKK in the late 80s and 90s. Lambda Legal, the NCLR and the ACLU should step up to defend our youth.

RIP, Billy

Fred
September 17th, 2010 | LINK

I am deeply shocked at this video and the comments to it on youtube. I feel sorry for the mother. Even if she is in denial, do not be too harsh on her, she just lost her kid! Man, here in the Netherlands the situation in schools os far from ideal, but I think you got a lot of work to do there as well. Keep up the good work. I will sned an email to the school and all the other email adresses, maybe some foreign influence can help a bit. Take care!

Priya Lynn
September 17th, 2010 | LINK

Emily said “Once again:

this kid was NOT gay.”.

You’re NOT omniscient – you DON’T know that. No one knows what this kid’s orientation was.

tede344
September 17th, 2010 | LINK

My email sent to: pchapple@greensburg.k12.in.us
rmock@greensburg.k12.in.us sauffenberg@greensburg.k12.in.us thunter@greensburg.k12.in.us

Dear Principal Chapple,

Concerning your student Billy Lucas’s suicide.

Why would you state this about Billy?:

“Sometimes he created that atmosphere around him,” Chappel said. “Kind of like a little tornado because he went around doing things that made dust fly, I guess.”

What did you mean by this statement?

What did Billy do that made dust fly?

What has that got to do with his suicide that occurred on your watch?

I guess your version is that Billy “created that atmosphere” by being “who he was” and “went around doing things” that “made dust fly” but yet you claim to have never noticed any bullying?

In your rush to blame Lucas for his own mistreatment, you seem to be clueless as to your own involvement or lack of awareness about what is going on in your own school.

America is sick of hearing stories about children being bullied in school while Administrators are “unaware”.

Personally you should be fired today as Principal. That “might” give you some awareness.

Hopefully Billy’s parents will sue your school district and make them “aware”. This seems to be the only way of ending this behavior by you.

Kids are not safe at your school in your care and you are totally unaware of it and apparently don’t care.

Sincerely,
xxxxxx

Here’s the response from the head of the school district. No one else responded:

Mr. xxxx,

Thank you for your concerns.

Tom Hunter

Timothy (TRiG)
September 29th, 2010 | LINK

This post doesn’t have the “suicide” tag on it.

TRiG.

Jim Burroway
September 29th, 2010 | LINK

Thanks. I’ve added the tag.

Kahlique Fame
September 29th, 2010 | LINK

My heart goes out to all that love Timothy.

I wish there was a way to let him know that there was a better solution to any problems he may have been facing, but this is not a time for wishes or dreams, this is a time to celebrate the life of timothy!

We as A United Country need to band and stand together as ONE, to prevent moments like this from crossing us…

NO MORE TALK AMERICA….
TIME TO STAND FOR A CAUSE!

I love you for being who you were Timothy…

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