PERRY TOWNSHIP – A Central Indiana teen says he was bullied for being gay and then physically attacked on a Perry Township school bus.
Police are investigating the incident, which happened last Thursday on a bus ride home from Southport High School.
The teen, known to Fox 59 News only as W.R. says he’s openly gay and has endured gay bullying through the years, but the physical confrontation has him shaken.
“It freaks me out. I’m anxious all the time,” W.R. said. “Whenever I’m at school I’m scared. I don’t want to be hurt.”
W.R. says he got into an argument with two fellow students after they began picking on his friend. A short time later, he says they turned their attention to him, attacking his sexuality.
“(They were) calling me a ‘f**’,” W.R. said.
Soon after, he says the slurs gave way to threats.
“Whenever we neared my stop, they were talking about how they wanted to get off the bus and ‘beat my a**,’” W.R. said.
When the bus did stop, W.R. says he got up to leave, but one of the boys stood up to block the aisle.
“I tried to push him out of the way, just to be able to get off the bus,” W.R. said. “And if he was going to try and harm me, just to run home.”
He says that’s when things turned violent.
“He grabbed me by the backpack, pulled me into a chokehold, put me into one of the seats,” W.R. said. “He punched me three times, and then put me into a chokehold and strangled me for a good 10 seconds.”
Despite suffering bruises to the neck, mouth and face, W.R. says the bus driver kicked both of them off the bus.
“(The driver) saw me pushing him aside. I feel like he misconstrued that as me trying to start something rather than me just trying to get away,” W.R. said.
The Perry Township School District acknowledged the incident, writing in a statement to Fox 59 News, “Bus suspensions were merited for both students. In addition, a police report has been filed, no arrests have been made.”
“My child was strangled on the bus,” said Sunshine Reffett, W.R.’s mother. “My child was beaten and strangled. He could not breathe. Something needs to be done.”
Reffett says she called police after bringing her son to the hospital. She also asked the district for bus video of the incident because each bus is supposed to have a surveillance camera. In this case, the district notified Fox59 News that video does not exist.
“The video camera on the bus was inoperable at the time,” the school said. “The video equipment has since been serviced and is fully functioning again.”
Reffett called the whole situation “deplorable,” but says she won’t stop fighting for justice.
“My son is now fearful, not only for being beat, but he’s fearful for his life,” Reffett said. “I don’t want to see another child—not just mine—another child hurt. This needs to stop.”
The Perry Township school district notified Fox59 News that the two teens have been assigned to different bus routes.
The police investigation into the incident continues. In the meantime, district officials say they remain in contact with both families.