ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — A 16-year-old girl and her mother believe a group of boys beat her up for being gay, according to WDAF.
Nylea VanHoutan and her mom call the attack on the young girl a hate crime.
VanHoutan says minutes after she and her three female friends left a pumpkin festival at a park, a large group of teenagers began to antagonize them.
"It was like 20 to 30 of them. They were high school kids because one of my friends said something like she had seen them at school," VanHoutan said.
But when she and her friends refused to fight and tried to continue walking to her uncle's house, she says the boys suddenly hit her in the back of the head, then punched her in her face and gave her a black eye.
"It was like in shock, really in shock," she recalled. "And when they did it, they called me a 'wanna-be boy expletive.'"
The high school junior is convinced the boys attacked her because she's a lesbian.
"I'm pretty sure it happened because I was queer," she said. "It's not okay, it's wrong."
Her attackers ran off and she was treated at a hospital. Her mom, Sescha Hicks, contacted police.
"Super angry as a mother. I believe down to the core of my bones it was a hate crime," Hicks said.
According to the research from the 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 34 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual students said they were bullied on school property. Twenty-eight percent were bullied electronically, and 10 percent were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.
Three days after the attack, VanHoutan's right eye is still purple and a little swollen. Police are asking anyone who knows anything about the assault on the teen to call the St. Joseph Police Department.