Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, 11 (MA) bullying because of perceived sexual orientation.
Jaheem Herrera, 11 (GA). bullying because of perceived sexual orientation.
Tyler Lee Long, 17 (GA) was called gay as part of his bullying before his suicide.
Justin Aaberg, 15(MN) gay
Seth Walsh, 13 (CA) gay
Asher Brown, 13 (TX) gay
Billy Lucas, 15 (IN) bullying because of perceived sexual orientation. (Mother claims he wasn’t gay)
Tyler Clementi – 18 (NJ) Gay
Corey Jackson – 19 (MI) Gay
Raymond Chase – 19 (RI) Gay
Zach Harrington – 19 (OK) Gay
Aiyisha Hassan – 19 (CA) Lesbian
Chloe Lacey – 19 (CA) Trans
Brandon Bitner – 14 (PA) bullying because of perceived sexual orientation.
With this new suicide, I started looking back at the articles for the others I wrote about. Something had struck me about how the bullying was handled by the schools. Consequences of actions by the bullies are never there. Consequences for the inaction of the schools is always ignored by the schools admins. Look through the quotes. Go back to the original articles. They all show the same disturbing trend. I noticed when I read about Friday’s horrific circumstances and happened to click on an older link to another one. The words about insisting on teacher’s neutrality concerning sexual orientation bullying smacked right between my eyes. Read for yourself and see if I am imagining things.
This segment is from Daily Item:
There seems to be little doubt in the students’ minds why Brandon Bitner did what he did.
“It was because of bullying,” friend Takara Jo Folk wrote in a letter to The Daily Item.
“It was not about race, or gender, but they bullied him for his sexual preferences and the way he dressed. Which,” she said, “they wrongly accused him of.”
His death came just days after an anti-bullying assembly at the high school, which, according to district Superintendent Wesley Knapp, was not held in response to any specific problems at the school, but because it is an issue Principal Cynthia Hutchinson has always felt strongly about.
After the assembly, according to student Briana Boyer in another letter to The Daily Item, “No one took it seriously, and joked around about it.”
Former Midd-West student Erin Barnett sent a letter as well, blaming the school, saying that when students report bullying, “Nothing is done.”
This is from WTHR:
But it was alleged bullying that, according to the Billy Lucas Memorial Facebook page, caused the outgoing freshman to take his own life.
“He was threatened to get beat up every day,” friend and classmate Nick Hughes said. “Sometimes in classes, kids would act like they were going to punch him and stuff and push him.”
Chappel said that no one had been punished for picking on Lucas, and that bullying had not even hit their radar.
“Sometimes he created that atmosphere around him,” Chappel said. “Kind of like a little tornado because he went around doing things that made dust fly, I guess.”
Friends of Lucas say that he had been tormented for years.
“Some people at school called him names,” Hughes said, saying most of those names questioned Lucas’ sexual orientation, and that Lucas, for the most part, did little to defend himself.
“He would try to but people would just try to break him down with words and stuff and just pick on him,” Hughes said.
This is from ABC News:
Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover was 11– hardly old enough to know his sexuality and yet distraught enough to hang himself last week after school bullies repeatedly called him “gay.” Derogatory labels regarding sexual orientation torment kids across the country. The Springfield, Mass., football player and Boy Scout was ruthlessly teased, despite his mother’s pleas to the New Leadership Charter School to address the problem.
This is from WSB TV:
Jaheem Herrera, 11, hanged himself after coming home from school on April 16.
Masika Bermudez said her son was being consistently bullied at school. She said she had complained to the school, and she said it was her 10-year-old daughter who alerted her to the stress Jaheem was under.
Channel 2 Action News reporter Pam Martin went to speak to Jaheem’s mother Monday.
“She said, ‘Ma, did you know they called Jaheem gay again today in school,’” said Bermudez.
Bermudez said bullies at school had called Jaheem “gay” and had taunted him about his accent. She said when he came home Thursday and she asked him about it, he denied it. She sent him to his room to calm down. That was the last time she saw him alive.
The front door of their apartment is now a shrine. Dozens of friends have come by to say goodbye.
Bermudez said she talked to Jaheem’s best friend about his frame of mind Thursday.
“He said, ‘Yes ma’am. He told me that he’s tired of everybody always messing with him in school. He is tired of telling the teachers and the staff, and they never do anything about the problems. So, the only way out is by killing himself,’” said Bermudez.
Bermudez said she had been to Dunaire Elementary School six or seven times to complain about how Jaheem and one of his sisters had been treated, but the problem persisted.
Bermudez said she is suspicious about why she didn’t receive her son’s notebooks until Monday afternoon. She said she had been told he documented the bullying.
“When she finally gave me the book, I was looking for these disturbing things — and it had torn pages and it has pages cut, like with scissors,” said Bermudez.
There is also this from Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Tyler Lee Long, diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder, a form of autism that causes social anxiety, was found dead in October, dangling from a belt in his closet. His parents, David and Tina Long, say the honor student was depressed about the abuse he had suffered at school. The teen complained of being mocked, pushed and punched for years, they said.
“He hated school,” his mother said. “They would spit in his food, call him ‘gay,’ smack him and say, ‘I can’t wait until you are six feet under!’ A lot of [the] time he would go to the counselor’s office and call me. We complained, but nothing much was done. If we had the financial means, we would have put him somewhere else.”
This is from an article on Sept. 14th at WCCO:
“Tammy Aaberg spoke up at a recent Anoka-Hennepin School Board meeting about the district’s sexual orientation curriculum policy which states, in part, “Teaching about sexual orientation is not a part of the District adopted curriculum; rather, such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations.”
“I’m asking you all to rewrite the policy in order to give teachers training in how to be more sensitive to GLBT students,” Tammy Aaberg told the School Board on Aug. 23.
After Tammy Aaberg spoke, two other recent graduates spoke too. One was a lesbian student who asked not to be identified.
“If you have students feeling like they’re isolated, like they have no one to turn to, and then they fill with self-hatred, are we surprised that we’re having suicides in the district by GLBT students? Something needs to happen,” said the graduate.
That student and a teacher, who also asked not to be identified, believe three of the five suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin District last year were because of struggles with sexual identity. They say name-calling and bullying happen often in the district because teachers and students don’t stand up to it.
The teachers said that’s partly because other teachers are scared and confused about how to interpret the curriculum policy.
The Anoka-Hennepin School District said the curriculum policy and bullying are two entirely separate issues.
“It’s very difficult. We have a community that has widely varying opinions, and so to respect all families, as the policy says, we ask teachers to remain neutral,” said District Spokeswoman Mary Olson.
Olson said the district doesn’t tolerate bullying and expects staff to stand up to it, but does acknowledge it happens to gay and lesbian students at school. She said the schools are adding some new training to their anti-bullying policy, which is currently seven years old.
Teachers will get a new training on sexual orientation and harassment. Every student will also be shown a video to lay out what that might mean.
A clip from one of the videos shows students acting out a scenario:
“The word ‘fag,’ the word ‘dyke’ is also awful,” says one student.
“When I hear kids say the word ‘fag’ in front of a teacher all time, and the teacher doesn’t even say anything,” responds another.
The teacher tells both, “You’re right, they should say something.”
Olson said the district doesn’t have any plans to change its curriculum policy but thinks the new training will have an impact. “
And another from San Francisco Chronicle:
Seth Walsh was an ordinary everyday kid who just wanted to live his life except there were cruel kids around him who won’t let him. Why you ask? Walsh was a young gay kid and there were kids that would not stop tormenting him while school officials ignored the problem despite being aware of the bullying.
Walsh as s 13-year-old student at the Jacobsen Middle School in Tehachapi, Kern County, California. On September 19, Walsh hanged himself from a tree in his backyard. Walsh did not die immediately and was discovered and taken to a hospital where he was placed in life support critical care.
Seth Walsh from Tehachapi, California finally died Tuesday afternoon after clinging on life support for nine days.
During the investigation many students acknowledged that Seth Walsh was in distress due to bullying over a long period of time because Walsh was gay. In spite of an anti-bullying program mentioned by school, the school officials nor the school board (more on the politically inept school board later) didn’t intervene to stop the bullying and mental torture of Seth Walsh. It’s ironic that the principal of the Jacobsen Middle School Susan Ortega proudly claims that she has a B.A. in Child and Family Crisis. Apparently Seth Walsh was a crisis Ortega did not see.
This is another from ABC Local:
The 13-year-old’s parents claim that the bullying went on for two years, ever since he got to the middle school. They claim that during that time, they had gone to complain to coaches, an assistant principal and anyone who would listen. They say nothing was ever done.
Now some other parents have come forward, seemingly supporting that claim.
“I told him I loved him and I hoped he had a good day,” said Amy Truong, parent of Asher Brown. “He said, ‘I love you too.’ He seemed fine.”
Just a few short painful days after their son, Asher Brown, took his own life, there are questions whether people at his school did enough to protect him.
“We never had any indication that those children were disciplined at all,” said Amy.
She and her husband David Truong claim Asher was bullied to death, taunted by other students at Hamilton Junior High School. They say he was ridiculed over his appearance, his religion and his sexual orientation.
The final blow, they believe, came just a day before he committed suicide.
“They literally tripped him down one flight of stairs; then when Asher got up to collect himself, they tripped him down a second one,” said David.
The Truongs claim for months they had complained to the school about the bullying, calling and showing up at least six times. But it was always the same response from the school.
“We gave the names to the school and nothing was done. Nothing,” David said.
“I said, ‘Sir’ — I don’t remember their names, the coaches — ‘Asher Brown or Killian Brown, our other son, they’ve been harassed, or they’ve been ganged up on.’ I would use different words of what was done to them,” recalled David Truong. “‘We need to talk.’ And there were no returns. Or I would go there, and when I would go there, I would even sometimes dress in a full suit to try to get a different response. No. They said, ‘You don’t have an appointment.'”
Amy Truong said, “They were just hoping we would leave it at that and go home.”
Cy-Fair district officials say they have no reports from students, staff members or parents that Asher was ever bullied. If he was, they say, the case would have been investigated.
Accountability and consequences need to happen. Otherwise this will go on and on and on as it has for decades already. Now is the time to institute changes in law, policy and social acceptance of bullying, for whatever basis. Society as a whole IS responsible for what it condones. It IS responsible for inaction. It IS responsible for setting the tone of what is right and wrong within the sight of children and teens. Churches are accountable and responsible for what they preach. Hate is hate. Love is love. No one gets the right to condemn another to death, by another’s hand or their own, for the sake of love.