Mum sues her gay son’s bullies following his tragic death by suicide

Homophobic bullying

A mother is suing her gay teenage son’s school district and six students over bullying, which she alleges caused him to take his own life. 

Hope Amspacher is bringing the action against Red Lion School District and students after her son, Zachary Kirchner, took his own life in the basement of the family home in south-eastern York County, Pennsylvania, in April 2021. He was 15.

The suicide followed years of harassment by fellow pupils over his sexuality and autism as well as the school’s neglect, Amspacher claims in the lawsuit. 

“Student defendants relentlessly harassed, belittled and broke down [the] decedent by telling him to ‘kill yourself’,” legal documents state. 

According to a report in LGBTQ Nation, Kirchner’s older brother, who found the teenager bleeding and hanging from a noose, attended the same school and witnessed several incidents of bullying from other students. 

“Zach K is a [gay slur]” was written on the stall door in the boy’s toilets, and remained there even after Kirchner’s suicide, the lawsuit continues. 

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Zachary Kirchner was a ‘wonderful person’

The bullying led to self-harming and a suicide attempt in December 2020, incidents of which, the lawsuit alleges, the school district was aware. 

Zachary Kirchner was hospitalised for several days after the attempt to take his own life.

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However, the bullying continued once he returned to classes, and school officials failed to take control of the situation, it is claimed. 

Seven of the counts in the lawsuit allege the school district failed to respond adequately to sexual harassment and disability-based bullying under state and federal laws, while others describe the student defendants’ behaviour and taunts as being “recklessly indifferent to the risk of harm”.

Kirchner’s obituary read that the teenager was a “wonderful person” and “supporter of LGBTQ rights and believed that everyone should be treated equally, no matter what your race, religion, or sexual orientation”. 

It went on to say: “His life was cut tragically short when the bullying that he was being subjected to, became more than he could bear.”

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