Tammy Aaberg is the mother of 15-year-old Justin Aaberg (pictured), the Anoka High School student in Minnesota who hanged himself after suffering the torment of high school bullying, and after breaking up with his boyfriend. “These kids, they just hate themselves,” says Tammy, whose son came out at age 13, and whom she didn’t know was suffering so bad inside. “They literally feel like they want to die. So many kids are telling me this.”
Anoka High has seen five students kill themselves in the past year; three of those suicides are believed to be tied to struggles with sexual identities. And yet the Anoka-Hennepin School District continues to rail against specifically calling out LGBT bullying — something their perhaps-future governor also believes — because, according to district spokeswoman Mary Olson, teachers should “remain neutral” on the subject.
That’s not good enough. Not to moms like Tammy Aaberg, who’s not letting her son die in vain. She’s become one of the area’s most vocal critics of the district, and the most vocal supports of bullying prevention.
You would assume there were warning signs from Justin, but either administrators or teachers — and his own mother — weren’t tuned in to pick up on them. And none of that will change until school districts accept that LGBT bullying does occur, is a unique problem, and doesn’t just affect “those faggot kids.” It affects the entire community.
These are our fucking kids. JESUS.