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Greensburg, Indiana: America’s Ugliest Town

Jim Burroway

September 17th, 2010

Want more reasons to be furious over Billy Lucas’ suicide?

Homophobic hate messages were left Thursday on a memorial page set up for Billy Lucas, a Greensburg High School student who killed himself last week after being mercilessly bullied, friends said. Numerous images were uploaded to a Facebook group, giving visitors a taste of the kind of hate Lucas endured, friends said.

The messages chided the teen about defending himself and made attacks on his presumed sexuality, 6News’ Joanna Massee reported. Lucas was found hanged in a barn at his grandmother’s house last week. Some of the messages attempted to make light of the way Lucas died.

In Greensburg, bullying doesn’t end with death. It goes on beyond the grave to torment those left behind. Greensburg, Indiana right now is the ugliest town in America.

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TampaZeke
September 17th, 2010 | LINK

But the most important thing is that we not let this turn into a homosexual activist thing or a teachable moment about homophobic bullying or any other kind of thing.

If we try real hard we can make sure that this whole ugly incident goes away before it has a chance to change anything in this Indiana town or anywhere else in America.

Greg
September 17th, 2010 | LINK

Please, can we expel the entire state of Indiana? Let’s just say that 1811 was a mistake and we’d like to take it back.

pepa
September 17th, 2010 | LINK

“Greensburg, Indiana right now is the ugliest town in America.”

There you go again Jim, taking one incident and blame an entire group of people who had nothing to do with it.

Your credibility is not looking as good as it once was.

Lynn David
September 18th, 2010 | LINK

I am not sure Greensburg deserves that moniker. There are always a few bad apples in any town on any one issue (though, yeah, Indiana, probably more than a few). More news from TheINDYchannel.com:

Decatur County Coroner Doug Banks said Lucas left a note that didn’t refer to bullying or blame anyone, but friends said he was bullied repeatedly, and classmates are questioning their own behavior, 6News’ Joanna Massee reported.

Lucas had a history of fighting with his mother and problems at school. In two memorial pages on Facebook, friends remembered Lucas and said that poor treatment of him caused his death.

“This is a memorial page for (William) Billy Lucas. He he was a great person, but everyone made fun of him at school and he couldn’t take it any more, so he decided to end his life,” read a posting on one of the pages.

“Whenever you lose a student, something has failed,” said Phil Chapple, the school’s principal. “I think it (Facebook) is a way for students to express some of their emotions. It’s a place where they can say to others, you know, maybe we need to look at ourselves.”

“We’ve had kids come forward and say you know they didn’t treat him the way they should’ve treated him, but then they also say sometimes Billy didn’t treat them the way he should’ve treated them,” Chapple said.

Parents said bullying is a pervasive issue, and some think schools aren’t doing enough to address the problem.

“My opinion, I don’t think they’re strongly doing enough,” said Karla Scheibler, who said her son was bullied in junior high school. “They just picked on him and called him a geek and all this stuff. It tore him apart.”

A former student, who didn’t’ want to be identified, said he was 14 when he overdosed after being bullied.

“I got picked on and bullied because I was gay,” the student said. “I took a handful of pills one night, and the only difference is I got to live and Billy didn’t.”

The school brought in additional counselors last week and is forming a committee comprised of parents and teachers to try to address the bullying issue.

From WISH-TV:

GREENSBURNG, Ind. (WISH) – A school system is taking a big step just a week after a boy commits suicide after being bullied.

New tonight, the superintendent of Greensburg Community Schools says in his ten years as the top official he has never had to deal with such a difficult situation.

Tom Hunter is talking about the death of 15 year old Billy Lucas. He committed suicide and within a day dozens of fellow students said it was because the boy was bullied since he was ten. The school system issued a video statement on their website late Friday afternoon.
Superintendent Tom Hunter says, “This is more than just a tragedy, it is devastating and our hearts go out to his family as they deal with this great personal loss. All of us at Greensburg have been proud of the programs and educational experiences we have provided for our students, but this situation has caused us to question whether we have done enough.”

Greensburg Schools has come up with an action plan. They’ve called on a national organization called the Jason Foundation to train staff and the community next month. Secondly, they are working with the Indiana Department of Education on an anti-bullying program for the school. An outside expert will train staff on diversity and tolerance. Plus, there will be a community advisory committee and a request for a new position for a full time counselor to deal with bully issues.

I-Team 8 has been the watchdog on schools for the last eight years since our investigation prompted Indiana’s only anti-bully law. We will stay on it. To see the entire new anti-bully plan click here http://www.greensburg.k12.in.us

To be more exact the Greensburg plan is at:
http://www.greensburg.k12.in.us/News%20Release.pdf

Jason Foundation on high risk students(including GLBTs) concerning suicide:
http://www.jasonfoundation.com/community/youth-suicide-facts/higher-risk-groups.php

But the Olweus Anti‐Bullying Program out of Clemson University is what the school uses (and is recommmended by Indiana state officials). At:
http://www.clemson.edu/olweus/
–or–
http://www.olweus.org/

I cannot find as yet how the Olweus Program concerns itself with GLBT students. Searched their site with Google and only one article popped up when I used the terms ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual.’

beachewtoy75
September 18th, 2010 | LINK

I’m from Indiana and I know a teacher at the school. He said that kids (mostly boys) were saying things like they were glad the faggot was dead, etc…

They had to hold an assembly about it.

Can’t say I’m surprised. BTW, this is the state that has a special license plate that reads “In God We Trust”

Lynn David
September 18th, 2010 | LINK

Not sure about Michael Dorn of Safe Havens who they are also employing. He has an anti-bullying program named Weakfish. Guns and knives???

andrew
September 18th, 2010 | LINK

Pepa — I have to agree. This site has become far more shrill and intemperate over the past months. Just give us the news and spare us the commentary. I don’t need help to know how to feel about these issues. I think I’m going to have to decide whether I want to keep BTB on my Yahoo page.

Priya Lynn
September 18th, 2010 | LINK

Pepa said “There you go again Jim, taking one incident and blame an entire group of people who had nothing to do with it.”.

The entire town wasn’t responsible, but many, many people in the town were. It doesn’t take the entire town to make it the ugliest one in the States.

John
September 18th, 2010 | LINK

The SOBs of the younger generation will learn a very painful lesson that mine never faced: online posts do not go away. As with the kids from Itwamba, just wait until future employers Google their names and find this crap. They can forget a life in politics too.

cj
September 18th, 2010 | LINK

U HAVE SOME NERVE, YA THIS IS ABOUT BULLYING AND IS A PROBLEM TO US, AND YES WE WILL FIGHT UNTIL ITS CHANGED. ALONG WITH OTHER CRAP THAT STANDS IN OUR WAY! I HOPE THE PARENTS FIND OUT WHO THESE PUNKS ARE AND WHIPS THEIR ASSES AND SUES THE PARENTS AND TAKES THEM TO THE POOR HOUSE , THEN THEY KNOW WHAT HATE IS, STRIP ALL AWAY THEY HAVE TO SHOW PARENTS THAT THE NEED TO RAISE THEIR CHILDREN RIGHT IN SOCIETY AND RESPECT ALL PEOPLE !

Chris McCoy
September 18th, 2010 | LINK

andrew wrote:

This site has become far more shrill and intemperate over the past months. Just give us the news and spare us the commentary. I don’t need help to know how to feel about these issues.

Box turtle has never claimed to be the Associated Press, or Reuters. It’s a blog.

Richard Rush
September 18th, 2010 | LINK

Pepa, it says a lot about you when, considering the events that happened in Greensburg, you choose to whine about Jim’s reference to it as “America’s Ugliest Town.” Only one of you has a some decency, and it isn’t you, Pepa.

Lynn David
September 18th, 2010 | LINK

About the Greensburg Schools anti-bullying program, they use the Olweus Program, which was developed at Clemson University. Greensburg Schools has developed an ‘action plan‘ in which they intend to supplement their use of the Olweus Program with work from the Jason Foundation and Safe Havens which I mentioned above.

Dr Warren Throckmorton had this to say about the Olweus Program:

Olweus is very solid. It is the program we are using locally and follows whatever assessment results find. In the training which I attended there were two handouts on lgb related issues and they were received well with affirmation that anti-gay slurs would not be tolerated.

I am not sure what will be tallied or counted in the program as it is still new in this systematic manner. I can tell you though that the program is clear in expectations for staff, teachers, students and parents. Where this is implemented consistently, results have been good.

So it appears that the school was well armed to stop bullying, but as is possible, the school fatally failed in one particular situation.

Lucrece
September 18th, 2010 | LINK

This is not a news site. It’s a commentary site– it’s always been like that. It just so happens that the commentary often involves news.

Don’t like it, go read AP or NPR. This is not a soulless pretense of being “objective” (which always translates to promoting the status quo in the case of MSM) type of endeavor.

Leave the site for those of us who appreciate the thoughtful exchange the boys at this site take so much time, effort, kindness, and dedication to offer.

pepa
September 19th, 2010 | LINK

The entire town wasn’t responsible, but many, many people in the town were. It doesn’t take the entire town to make it the ugliest one in the States.

So are you saying that the entire town has been indicted by a grand jury and convicted of the crime?

pepa
September 19th, 2010 | LINK

@Lurece

So then in that case why even take this site seriously since it is only one man’s opinion?

pepa
September 19th, 2010 | LINK

if only you liberals were honest and say that BTB is not gay site about homophobia but rather just another liberal blog then maybe you would have some credence

pepa
September 19th, 2010 | LINK

Can’t say I’m surprised. BTW, this is the state that has a special license plate that reads “In God We Trust”

This is strange since your fellow liberal believes in the following:

I can say I believe in true freedom of religion

Hunter
September 19th, 2010 | LINK

Pepa and Andrew:

As others have pointed out, this is a blog, not a news site. In my own opinion, if you can’t read critically, stay off the Internet, because you can’t rely on anything you read there.

As to whether Greenburg is the ugliest place in America, that’s a hard call. There are a lot of contenders, but it’s certainly not the nicest. Leaving hateful messages on a memorial site is pretty nasty.

I am gratified to see from the latest reports that the superintendent is taking this seriously. It’s just sad that it takes something like a kid killing himself to wake people up.

Priya Lynn
September 19th, 2010 | LINK

Pepa said “This is strange since your fellow liberal believes in the following:”.

True freedom of religion means the government doesn’t try to force religion on people by pushing it through the public sphere. There is nothing inconsistent about those two statments.

Priya Lynn
September 19th, 2010 | LINK

Pepa asked “So are you saying that the entire town has been indicted by a grand jury and convicted of the crime?”.

What part of “the entire town wasn’t responsible” didn’t you understand?

Priya Lynn
September 19th, 2010 | LINK

The above comment by Pepa shows the typical dishonesty of right wingers like him.

John
September 19th, 2010 | LINK

So then in that case why even take this site seriously since it is only one man’s opinion?

Are you so dismissive of all opinion commentary, which btw includes YOUR blog and posts here, or is there some special reason why you are singling out BTB? Personally I enjoy reviewing a mix of opinions from different sides, as long as they are intelligently presented. I do not agree with Jim B. a lot on politics but I also enjoy reading his thoughts on the topics. Ditto for Timothy K., though I agree with him more than Jim B. So I’m really have difficulty understanding what’s the problem here.

Major
September 19th, 2010 | LINK

THE FIRST AMENDMENT DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO INCITE.

I don’t know who you are Pepe, but you are some kind of a mole or something. He isn’t voicing opinions or bantering ideas to find consensus; he is attacking people and trying to engage fighting. That is not dialogue. Pepe is inciting readers and should be banned.

There is no moral or legal obligation to give him a forum for his hate speech. He has no 1st amendment right to incite. BTB should have a special blog for angry closeted gays that need to incite others.

The affect on me is direct: I find myself not reading the blogs or engaging conversation due to his viral discourse. And I am using an alias today so that Pepe doesn’t track me down and cause me grief.

Good bye Peepe.

Scott P.
September 19th, 2010 | LINK

Is there a screw up with the moderation again?

Ben
September 20th, 2010 | LINK

As a believer in equality the right need not be painted with any broader a brush than the right paints the left.

At the moment Surprise, AZ seems uglier to me.

customartist
September 20th, 2010 | LINK

* Everyone,

The locals aren’t holding anyone accountable.

Please ask CNN to cover the horrible Child Death and Cover-Up of Billy Lucas. Please report the names of Bullies and teachers who knew*

http://www.cnn.com/feedback/tips/newstips.html

Timothy Kincaid
September 20th, 2010 | LINK

pepa

if only you liberals were honest and say that BTB is not gay site about homophobia but rather just another liberal blog then maybe you would have some credence

You need to chill out.

Ironically, we frequently get scolded for being too conservative as well. This site has a number of opinions because it has more than one contributor.

In my opinion, when someone starts ranting about “you’re just a conservative” or “you’re just a liberal” it means that they’ve run out of argument and now are engaging in group-hate.

homer
September 25th, 2010 | LINK

Those people whining about the commentary aspect of BTB, feel free to spend the hundreds of hours that Jim has spent researching these stories and make your own website.

Josie
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

i live in greensburg and i 100% agree with the statement of “Greensburg, Indiana: America’s ugliest town.” I went toschool with Billy everyone knew abut him being bullied anyone who said that they didnt know was lying. Billy wasn’t gay but even if he was who cares? NO one deserves to die like this!

olga nada
October 7th, 2010 | LINK

I’m from Greensburg and went to GCHS. I have lived on the west coast for a decade, but still visit family in the burg regularly. What I have always been aware of in Gbrg is white male entitlement and a lack of critical discourse. There is a phenomenon there whereby men feel as though they run the show. They can stare at whomever, say terrible things to women and minorities, and why? It’s called redneck entitlement. If you’ve never had any experiences outside of your sheltered, white, middle class, male dominated culture, one might start to think that everywhere is like Gbrg. It’s not. I think that Gbrg is going through the same growing pains that have popularized the tea party movement. I’ve noticed on recent trips to Gbrg that when you look around there are actually out gay people and minorities, where once there were none. This must be so scary to those who have maintained tyrannical control since the good ol’ days when black people were escorted out of town, or told not to let the sun set on their asses in the burg. I’ve noticed on FB and elsewhere that whenever someone blames or questions Greensburg’s complicity in hate, people are quick to say that this kind of bullying happens everywhere. As a teacher, I would agree with them in part. Yes, bullying, especially of those deemed different, is rampant. The difference bw elsewhere and Gbrg is that in southeastern IN, hate and the justification of hateful actions are systemic. No one talks about anything. Just ignore it and it’ll go away, or more kids will die, maybe even one that you know or are related to. Maybe then it will be important enough to have a community-based discussion about how Gbrg is, in fact, way behind the times. Look around people…you’ve got maybe a couple decades until not everyone else looks just like you. Then what?!

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