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Community rallies around family after social media post bullies East Texas student with autism

Grand Saline ISD says racial bigotry or bullying has no place in the district.

MINEOLA, Texas — A shocking photo from a Grand Saline high school student is making rounds across social media. It’s getting sharp backlash for targeting another student’s race and disability.

Zion Gilliam-Beck shot a basketball around in his driveway without a care in the world Friday afternoon with no idea he'd been viciously bullied the day before.

“There was a young man at Grand Saline that posted a picture of Zion on Snapchat,” Tiffani Beck, Zion's mom said.

She adopted Zion four years ago. With her permission CBS19 is only showing the photo for context.

Credit: Snapchat

Another student took this photo of Zion washing his hands in the restroom and posted it on Snapchat mocking his autism diagnosis and calling him a racial slur. The photo spread quickly.

“There are so many people who are upset and outraged," Beck said. "I understand that, but I'm so thankful that it will never hurt him or bother him the things that were said because he doesn't understand."

According to to Grand Saline ISD, the investigation into the vicious post is being handled as spelled out in the district's Student Code of Conduct.  

"While we have taken several opportunities to guide our students in the proper use of social media and how to treat our fellow humans, this action fits nowhere in our expected behavior," GSISD said in a statement. "This is a great time for us as a school and for you as parents to double our efforts in teaching our children proper behavior including the use of social media."

The district says racial bigotry, bullying, and any other hurtful actions from one student to another will not be tolerated.

"Please encourage your children to bring any inappropriate social media posts to an authority figure at school instead of reposting," GSISD said. "Though it may be well-intentioned, reposting has the potential to cause even more harm."

Beck is humbled by the way her community rallied around her son.

“It's really made me think more about the other young man and, and his family and what he's probably going through,” Beck said.

Growing up with autism, Beck says Zion was in and out of foster homes.

Born weighing just a pound, the once-nutrient deficient infant is now a vibrant 18-year-old who’s been on vacation, prom and soon -- graduation.

He’s excited to graduate next month and see what adulthood has to offer.

Credit: Tiffani Beck

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