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  ANOTHER CHILD LOST

Tennessee 14-Year-Old Commits Suicide After Constant Bullying

“He kept telling me he had a rock on his chest—he just wanted to take the rock off where he could breathe.”

Those were the words of Ruby Harris, grandmother of 14-year-old Phillip Parker, who took his own life last week after enduring constant bullying for being gay.

WSMV 4 in Nashville reports Phillip’s family reported the situation to administrators at Gordonsville High School several times,  “but the bullying by a group of students just got worse.”

We’re getting tired of writing these stories, as we’re sure you are of reading them. Whatever systems are in place—”It Gets Better,” the Trevor Project—clearly aren’t working. So what’s the solution?

*Should we focus on anti-bullying legislation? Is it even worth trying to stop something as endemic and ancient as bullying?

*Should we discourage kids this young and living in such unwelcoming environments from coming out?

*Do we teach LGBT tweens and teens how to defend themselves—thus perpetuating the cycle of violence?

Give your thoughts in the comments section.

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Jan 23, 2012
Tagged: , ,

  • 72 Comments
    • Craig R
      Craig R

      It is not hard for teachers to stamp out bullying. It can be ruthlessly crushed.

      It doesn’t even take much effort, but it does take time, a lot of time. And someone at the school needs to be willing to put the time in every time some child starts being bullied.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 7:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • andreusz
      andreusz

      @Craig R: At my school the teachers were among the
      bullies.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 7:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kylew
      Kylew

      @Craig R: Craig, that sounds so simple, but the fact is, bullying is IMMENSELY difficult to even be sure about, much less to stamp out. In a class, there is a constant background noise of complaints from the kids about each other, and an equally constant background hum of rough-housing. The number of times you see the very best of friends being tremendously unpleasant to each other and happily accepting and reciprocating, then all of a sudden one person is really upset or crying.

      It’s virtually impossible teaching a class of 30 kids to know what 10 of them are up to at any time, and they can be tremendously sneaky and cunning. Educational league tables and school performance pressures have changed the emphasis at school from happy, fruitful education, to a numbers game. When you’re trying to maintain the smooth running of a class, you simply don’t have the time to stop and investigate each and every time there’s a noise or a frown or an unhappy face.

      On one hand, what we need is a zero tolerance policy towards bullying, with heavy penalties for bullies, but on the other hand, zero tolerance is usually applied by penalising any child involved in violence, so what hppens more often than not, is the the victims end up being punished for defending themselves.

      Even IDENTIFYING the bullies can be virtually impossible. Like any “professional” criminals, the bullies are far better at what they do, than the victims are at being victims. Bullies are often adept at rallying fake witnesses, acting out of sight of teachers and cameras, and generally covering their tracks.

      All of that being said, in every school, there are kids who are known by the school to be bullies, yet they are allowed to continue mixing with the general population. In many cases, their parents are so hostile that the schools are afraid to tackle them. What messages do these behaviours send? This is one way that teachers MUST show courage and leadership.

      I believe that bullying needs to be treated like assault and dealt with accordingly, and verbal assault needs to be treated much more like physical assault. The penalties for bullying need to be increased dramatically, which is why I’m so infuriated by all these politicians emasculating bullying bills – I just don’t understand what can possibly be going through their heads when they vote against this stuff. If you want to do something for bullying, or you want to find out more about the various actions against it, go here:

      http://www.bullycide.org/

      Jan 23, 2012 at 8:03 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Danadu
      Danadu

      It seems to me that perhaps the approach is wrong in these cases. Instead of trying to locate the bullies, it would be much easier to identify the students being bullied. Start with the victim. there should be as many open doors as needed so that these kids have a place to go. I refuse to believe that any teacher out there doesn’t know which students are the ones either openly gay or perceived as gay. I also believe it is easy to identify any disenfranchised young person whereas I agree that pinpointing a single bully is very difficult. Instead of turning a blind eye to those kids, keep a close eye on them, engage them, and create a dialogue that will empower them to ask for help instead of feeling helpless and alone. I would even say wiring these kids with recording devices so that they could record the bullies which may sound extreme but what do you call suicide? Extreme? Yes. Also, lastly, if the criminals feel there will be no real punishment, why would they ever stop the bullying? The punishment must actually take something from them, their sports, their cheerleading, band, whatever gives them power and status. It must go on record and it must be very public.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 8:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Snapper59
      Snapper59

      He’s a beautiful child and his loss is tragic but I’m getting skeptical of placing every gay teen suicide under “bullying” and that’s that. We have no idea what his home life was like and the structure. Drugs? Alcohol? Father figure? I noticed his mom was wailing but no tears.

      I’m not “bullying” , just saying it’s getting to be a panacea. A 14 year old is a baby. Parents are responsible for protecting them. Parents complained and the bullying “got worse”? I have beautiful parents who wouldn’t have accepted “got worse”.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 8:34 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JKB
      JKB

      I think pressure needs to be placed on those who are neither the bullies nor the victims. This seems to be the populace who is getting off easy. I do see new ads promoting witnesses to bullying to tell a grownup, which is good. But bullying needs to become such anathema to children that witnesses find ways to not only know when they see bullying, but also make bullies uncomfortable to be bullies.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 8:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike UK
      Mike UK

      Having just watched the VT, the head teacher didn’t come across as convincing or indeed concerned that one of her students had taken his life!

      your national and regional governments should be doing something about the situation, it seems not a week goes by were this site doesn’t report on some kid killing themselves whether it be over family life or “school bullying” for being gay or the slightest bit different!

      All kids can be cruel but some take it to the extreme!

      Jan 23, 2012 at 8:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Swift Justice
      Swift Justice

      It’s time to respond in kind. A gay kid commits suicide after being bullied at school, demand that the principle of the school turn over the bullies. If they don’t, execute them. Then move on to the vice-principle, the home room teacher, the gym coach, head of the student union. I figure twice, three times, the schools will start throwing the bullies out into the streets with signs on their backs. Then they can just be gunned down in the open.

      A violent society in a violent country only understands violent solutions.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 9:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason
      jason

      Sue the school. Simple. Nothing speaks louder than a major lawsuit.

      As for what to do about bullying, if the school doesn’t act, call the police.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 9:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daez
      Daez

      @andreusz: Same here, I can’t remember any instances of bullying from high school. It was 1992-1997. However, in grade school, one instance that will always stick out in my mind was the language arts teacher talking about how gay used to mean something so beautiful and it had been co-opted by sick and disgusting people to talk about their perversions. She said this openly in class. A friend of mine, who graduated after I did, also had problems with this same teacher.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 9:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike in Asheville
      Mike in Asheville

      PER QUEERTY: We’re getting tired of writing these stories, as we’re sure you are of reading them. Whatever systems are in place—”It Gets Better,” the Trevor Project—clearly aren’t working.

      There are 33 million American teens with a suicide rate of 1 in 1000 per year, or 33,000 teen suicides/year, or, nearly 100 teen suicide EVERY DAY!, of which, some 10-20 PER DAY are gay/lesbian kids.

      That there continues to be gay kids committing suicide does not mean that the Trevor Project or It Gets Better are failures; indeed, they seem to be extremely successful in reaching out to the many more who turn away from suicide with the help and support offered.

      Your conclusion is simply based on the fact that suicides continue. Well, people still die, approximately 50 AIDS deaths EVERY DAY in America. Do you call HIV/AIDS interdiction medications a failure? Of course not, AND there is still a long way to go.

      Instead of bitching at Trevor Project and IGB, help them help even more kids.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 9:44 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • newcityspot
      newcityspot

      RIP buddy. My heart breaks for you.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 9:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • newcityspot
      newcityspot

      In answer to Queerty’s questions…

      It’s America’s failure to not have laws that protect civilians from experiencing hate.

      Britain’s already taking care of it. But America was one of the last countries to abolish slavery, and Britain and Ireland took care of that before the USA too, so I guess it just isn’t a priority here.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 9:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ave Rage Joe
      Ave Rage Joe

      Laws wont fix this. Bully will be around for 1000s of yeas to come. There needs to be a call for kids to grow a thick skin and fight back. If these bullies were cornered they would very quickly disappear.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 10:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian Ellis
      Brian Ellis

      Anti-bullying legislation was already put in place in TN but they made sure to make exemptions for “religious or moral” reasons.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 10:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • FreeRangeRadical
      FreeRangeRadical

      @andreusz: And that’s the core of the issue, too. As long as staff – whether it’s teachers, administrators, or even the maintenance crew – participate in the bullying or even allowing this behavior with a wink and a nod, it will never end. What’s worse is that this seems to happen more in the bible belt than in any other part of the country despite extremist christians claiming to be followers of the prince of peace and love. When you have an institutional hatred, as extremist christians do of gays, that’s so ingrained in the general mindset, how do you stamp it out?

      But it seems to me that if the school officials truly wanted to do something beyond paying lip service as the principal did, (and does anyone think from her behavior on camera that she gives a sh*t?) bullying like this couldn’t happen. If school officials had called out the bullies and castigated their behavior right in front of their peers, it would send a message that this behavior wouldn’t be tolerated.

      But hey, they’re extremist christians, most likely, so hate is a part of their religious canon: “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. The problem is that some people can’t separate the two.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 10:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • FreeRangeRadical
      FreeRangeRadical

      @jason: Back in the early 1990s, my partner and I were part of a gay outreach organization and part of that entailed going into schools and talking with groups of gay kids, or sometimes just one or two. The local cops assigned to the schools were often as guilty of the wink and nod bullying affirmation as anyone else. I don’t know if that has changed, but from what we’ve seen of police behavior in the past few months, especially with the Occupy groups, I doubt it.

      It’s my observation that it’s usually the school bullies who go on to become cops, anyway.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 10:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike UK
      Mike UK

      @FreeRangeRadical: as i said earlier the way the principal came across on the vt you could tell she didn’t give a rats arse about the kid!

      Jan 23, 2012 at 10:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Freddie
      Freddie

      At the school I went to, the head teacher made it very clear that students would be expelled for three things: theft, drugs on school property and bullying. Zero tolerance.
      Ergo, moi, an outrageously flamboyant homosexual, was never bullied once.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 11:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @FreeRangeRadical: Gay kids don’t look for trouble like the Occupy groups do. They generally tend to be risk-averse and diplomatic, which bullies see as a sigh of weakness and walk all over them, taking advantage of their good tolerent nature.

      And that’ why we need an actual “gay mafia”. One that hunts down bullies and breaks their fingers.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 11:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ousslander
      ousslander

      I’m surprised there any of of us in existence. Gays have been bullied forever and you have to develop a thick skin. Also gay kids and adults need to learn how to defend themselves.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 11:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon1981
      Shannon1981

      This has gotten to a level that is beyond outrageous. The government needs to step in, zero tolerance policies from a Federal level, effective immediately. The fact that this is continuing, despite the many efforts to stop it, is simply unacceptable.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 11:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Eli
      Eli

      We’ll never be able to get rid of bullying entirely. Nor are we going to be able to get rid of homophobia entirely, or of people who are willing to attack someone just for being gay entirely.
      That doesn’t mean the status quo is the best we can hope for. This tragedy is not only one of many suicides that have happened recently; it’s also at least the second from Tennessee in recent times, at a time when Tennessee has been trying to pass bills to make it illegal to support gay students. The Tennessee legislature has these kids’ blood on its hands for these actions.
      When kids are bullied, we need to remember that the bullies are more often than not other kids. People keep saying we need a crackdown on bullying, but a lot of these bullies have their own issues to work out, and punishing them isn’t going to solve the main problem. The main problem is that adults are sending the message that it’s OK to ostracize and bully someone for being gay, or trans, or just non-gender-normative. Pious, self-righteous murder-enablers like Michele Bachmann (whose district led the nation in bullycides) or the Tennessee legislature keep justifying their bigotry with religion and calling their hate love. I don’t care what book you think is holy – it’s not OK to think homosexuality is immoral. That system of values is evil and is killing children. And those politicians and religious leaders are the ones really to blame. The bullies are just acting on what adults are telling them, unless teachers and school staff are the bullies in which case those people should be in jail.
      It’s not fair, though, to say that the Trevor Project and IGB aren’t working. You’ve got to factor in the stuff that isn’t on the news: kids who have thought of killing themselves but were able to reconsider after seeing an IGB video, for instance. You can’t be sure how many people have been reached, but even if IGB saved only one life, that would make it worth it. Nothing reaches everybody. One teen suicide is too many, but LGBT people killing themselves used to be so common that any movie with a gay character would end with that character dead. It has been getting better – it’s just that it was too late for Phillip Parker and the other kids. And it’s awful, because they deserved and should have had the support that people who grow up in more tolerant places have.
      What we need is an LGBT-friendly counselor in every middle and high school in America. What we need is to make sure everyone makes the connection between religion and politics on the one hand, and kids dying on the other. What we need is to make sure everyone in America grows up with someone to tell them that not only is it OK to be gay, it’s fun and meaningful and important and something to be proud of.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 11:44 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Third of July
      Third of July

      @Swift Justice: It is definitely time to fight back. Since principals don’t always know how bad bullying can be, they cannot be counted on.
      When talking about sexual assault people often use the term survivor instead of victim because there is no guarantee that the survivor is going to get out alive. The level of dehumanization that can take place with bullying is no different. If someone doesn’t give a fuck about your existence and is trying their best to make your life a living hell, who’s to say that they wouldn’t also sexually or physically assault you.
      And yeah, the militarization of schools is not the answer. Prison violence happens only because the guards intentionally turn away or participate. The cops are complicit.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 11:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kele
      Kele

      @jason: Going after teh school won’t help the situation. It will actually make it worse. Where do you think the money for the lawsuit comes from? It comes from textbook, school supply, and teachers’ salaries. Lawsuits against schools only ever hurt the students.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon1981
      Shannon1981

      @Third of July: That’s right. The system is infiltrated with homophobes and heterosupremacists. We cannot rely on them to protect us or our youth. Everywhere from the legal system to the school system is much more interested in protecting the so called liberties of religious bigots and their “rights” to harass LGBT people to death than they are concerned about these deaths. I say its time to give these heterosupremacists a taste of their own medicine. Queer Supremacy FTW!! But how do we start turning the tables?

      Jan 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kele
      Kele

      I was bullied all through school, mostly for my weight, wearing glasses (which made me stop wearing them by high school despite making it almost impossible to read the chalkboard which would have greatly hurt my grades if I wasn’t already ahead of my classes in ‘skill level’ already so didn’t need the board notes), and just being ‘different’. Yeah I got called a fag at times, but that wasn’t because anyone knew (or even suspected) I was gay, but just because it was deemed an insult to use as part of the bullying.

      The bullying was often physical and often between classes or off school property so wasn’t much the teachers could do even with the small classes I had (went to school in small town schools so 30 was an unusually large class size). The one time something was done was in 9th grade when the art teacher saw it happen (my locker was next to the art room door and I’d just left art class) as one of the bullies who’d been just verbal up to that point shoved my head into my open locker (or technically the frame of it as it was too narrow for my head to go into it). Him and the others with him were suspended for a week while nothing was done to me other than to talk to the principal when it happened. This just made things worse for me because I was blamed for them getting suspended because I was seen in the principals office and not suspended myself. I never asked for them to be suspended and honestly would have prefered it if nothing had been done because all the ‘zero tolerance’ did was make the bullying worse for me.

      After that year my personality changed and the bullying went back to verbal insults, partially because in the next school I made friends with the football quarterback and older friends (18-20 or so) who had done jail time. People became less inclined to mess with me then. The following year, in yet another new school (another reason I was targeted by bullies, always the new kid) the bullying threatened to get physical again so I stopped going to school and had to drop out or get expelled. That was my 2.5 years in High School. My suicide attempt was in 7th grade and was more motivated by socieity’s views of gays at the time (mid-80s) then bullying in school. Bullying isn’t relegated just to school and bullying motivated suicide often goes beyond school bullying to the societal bullying that still goes mostly ignored.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Caliban
      Caliban

      NO program or suite of programs is ever going to “end” bullying or gay teen suicide, so I really think the criticism of “It Gets Better” or The Trevor Project is unfair. You mean to tell me that programs that have only been in place for a few years haven’t completely ended homophobic bullying and teen suicide?! Quelle fucking surprise! If you have a program in mind you think will work better, by all means put it into action or forward that idea to someone who will, but the endless armchair bitching about what other people ARE DOING while you do nothing is actually not productive.

      One thing I’d encourage kids (or adults) who are being bullied to do is to document it. Many phones and Mp3 players have voice or video recording capabilities for instance and kids often know beforehand when they’re headed into a situation where bullying will occur, whether it’s by fellow students or faculty. That way there is NO DOUBT what happened and lies do not work in the face of irrefutable evidence. Just within the last year videos of gay students (or those perceived to be gay) being beaten or harrassed and teachers bullying students have resulted in suspension and dismissal of the offenders. You have access to the technology, USE IT.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ray
      Ray

      There is no need for further legislation. Arrest the principal, all teachers who knew about the bullying, the school superintendent and entire school board and charge them with child endangerment. Release the names of all the bullies to the public. Find out and release the political party affiliation of the parents of the bullies and the names of the cults houses they attend. If all of that was done this epidemic would be over in a few weeks.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon1981
      Shannon1981

      @Ray: While these are wonderful ideas in theory, in practice what would happen is that the religious bigots would cry persecution, as would anyone without a 100% left leaning political affiliation. They’d just accuse us of using school children to advance this so called “homosexual agenda” and rally the extremist masses with the fear that their kids will all be forced to abandon their religious beliefs in favor of queerdom.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Carlsbad
      Carlsbad

      “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.” -Malcolm X

      Bullies ONLY respond to strength. When I was in school, my mother said to me, “if anyone ever hits you, turn around and hit them twice as hard so they never hit you again.” And so, as a kid, I was hit by another kid. ONCE.

      Now I realize that bullying often involves verbal abuse more than anything else, but the way it stands now, bullies are fully empowered. If the schools can’t, or won’t, step in to protect LGBT kids (or any other kid for that matter), then we need to teach our youth to protect themselves. If, the first time a gay kids gets called a faggot, he gives the offender a bloody nose, I honestly think that bully will think twice before trying again. This, and the gay mafia. Both would be good.

      Why do you think we are not only targets for hate and violence but we also do not enjoy full equality under the law? It’s not just because people think we are gross or the Bible tells them so. It is because the people who hate us or are indifferent to us see as a weak minority. We need to show them we are strong. Bill Maher has made the point that “Americans don’t care what side of an issue you are on. They just want to know you are not a pussy.” Now I am not blaming the victim (in this case bullied gay kids) in the least. I am saying we need to take it to the next level. I think a lot of kids want to fight back, they just need to be empowered to do so. Trevor, IGB, anti-bullying leg, that’s all well and good. But at the same time, everything we do should send the message: Don’t. Fuck. With. Us.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Make It Better Project
      Make It Better Project

      Such a tragic story, and yes, we think it’s time for solutions, too. There ARE ways to make it better: having Gay-Straight Alliance clubs in schools leads to greater feelings of safety among all students. Federal laws like the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act would be a tremendous step forward. Making sure that schools implement laws and policies that are already in place is essential. Please, if you’re looking for ways to make it better, they exist: http://www.makeitbetterproject.org.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ray
      Ray

      @Shannon1981: It’s past time we stopped worrying about what people think and start fighting back.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon1981
      Shannon1981

      @Ray: Oh, I could care less what they think. Its backlash and hurried legislation to further victimize us that I am worried about.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • WillBFair
      WillBFair

      There’s not much we can do for the kids. In homophobic areas, this is considered sport by the whole community. One thing we should do is to say loud and clear:
      1) Don’t come out in school, even if you think it might be safe.
      2) If you’re nelly, try to butch it up, and keep a low profile. You’ll be free to be yourself after you graduate. That seems like a ling time, but it’s really not. Be patient. You can’t imagine how wonderful it’ll be when you have dear freinds in your life.
      We should also start emotional support systems for the twenty something crowd immediately. They come out of the public school hatefest with zero self esteem. And they are spreading hiv. This needs to be adressed NOW.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CBRad
      CBRad

      @Mike in Asheville: If there are about 100 teen suicides each day, with about 80 percent being heterosexuals, I wonder what the supposed reasons are. I know people do it for a whole slew of reasons, and teenagers are especially emotionally explosive, but I wonder what are the most common factors with both gay and straight teens who do that.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon1981
      Shannon1981

      @WillBFair: The thing is, usually the closet is made of glass. Mine was. I was outed at 14, and people were more than well aware of the fact before then. What kid knows how to censor themselves? At the age of 30, I obviously know how to “tone it down” so to speak..but I certainly had no clue how to go about that back then. I doubt these kids do either.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CBRad
      CBRad

      @Shannon1981: I agree with that. I understand his point, but in so many cases I don’t think kids are able to act any differently or pretend to be straight. Whether or not they SHOULD have to put on an act is another matter, but….anyway, they probably can’t.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 3:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon1981
      Shannon1981

      @CBRad: I’d say it took me until about 4 years ago to actually be able to hide it when I have to, and even then…I generally fail miserably. Some of us are just naturally flamboyant. Not much to be done about that, especially with kids.

      and I think its a great suggestion, but in most cases simply unrealstic.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kylew
      Kylew

      @Kele: What, so schools shouldn’t be prosecuted for criminal negligence because they will use school money to defend themselves? What a weak argument. By that argument, if your car gets stolen you shouldn’t claim for it because in the long run it puts your premiums up.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kylew
      Kylew

      @CBRad: Apparently academic performance anxiety is a big factor.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 3:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike UK
      Mike UK

      perhaps one of the big and better off LGBT organisations could fund a court case against one of these schools who claim they knew nothing and maybe set a presidence in law.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon1981
      Shannon1981

      @Mike UK: Not a bad idea. Perhaps HRC and GLAAD could take this on, along with the ACLU.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • WillBFair
      WillBFair

      @Shannon1981: I admit, it’s a tough problem. Young people often don’t have the emotional strength to put on a false front. Especially when they’re being harrassed by a gang. I went through it, and barely had enough sense to keep body and soul together.
      If parents are sympathetic, they might help. They might take the kid out of school and complain to the federal government. It’s often a waste of time to complain to local hicks. They actuall enjoy the family’s suffering.
      Again, all of these are tall orders. There’s just not much we can do for our people until they are adults. At that point, there should be support structure ready for them. But as usual, I see that no one actually wants to do anything to help.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • WillBFair
      WillBFair

      @Mike UK: Good idea.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shannon1981
      Shannon1981

      @WillBFair: I agree about some kind of support structure. That will stop the massive amounts of self destructive behavior- all the promiscuity, alcohol and drug abuse, and all manner of life ruining horror that often happens when these kids are finally out of the house.

      And let’s face it, you’re right. There isn’t much to be done short of a nationwide, enforceable, zero tolerance policy, and I think we all know that’s gonna be an even taller order than all the rest. Sad, but true.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CBRad
      CBRad

      @Kylew: Now that you mention the academic performance anxiety, I seem to recall that, yes. Hard to believe, in some ways, that’s a factor with teen suicide, but… yeah..

      Jan 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Has his doubts
      Has his doubts

      I have my doubts about automatically attributing suicide to “bullying.” What was going in the kid’s home? Did he have a support structure? Did he suffer from diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health issues? Were there other things going on in his life other than just “he was a gay kid who got bullied”? It’s possible, I guess, but unlikely that a mentally-healthy kid with a strong, supportive family will kill himself, even when he’s the victim of bullying.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Martin
      Martin

      Bullying is exercise of power. One kid shows dominance by bullying (making an example of) another kid and thus rules by fear. It would happen in adult society too except for laws etc.

      Parents want what is good for their child and so some parents think its good if their children are at the top of the hierachy, lots do everything they can to promote the status of their children using their money etc.

      Until compassion is more developed there will be bullying because its natural human behaviour to want to exercise power. Only by making parents as a group see the greater good for their own children on individual basis in a secure school environment can this end.

      I think its extreme to tell 14 yo to come out. In that age its normal behaviour to form peer groups where you try to be similar to strengthen group identity. Being gay sets you totally apart. In that age sexual identity becomes more conscious and they play with it and look for role models to imitate. Homosexuality will be threatening to someone already insecure about sexual identity and so bullying the person with the wrong behaviour seems “justified”. No other kids can help or be “tainted” as well by association.

      If we tell very young kids to come out we also leave them to fight a lonely battle. We have no help to offer them that makes any diference anyway. The psyche develops and older people aged 25+ are far more secure in themselves and make for an easier coming out situation. In the small towns there will not be any gay community anyway.

      Id say wait with coming out and be discreet until age 18ish

      Jan 23, 2012 at 6:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike UK
      Mike UK

      @Has his doubts: unless they do a full investigation them we may never know why he did it!

      Jan 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CBRad
      CBRad

      @Mike UK: Abnd I daresay some gay teens committ suicide for reasons that had nothing to do with being gay. But, whatever the cause in this particular case, we still know that bullying can be a terrible factor with “obvious” gays, so….We can know that and still see each case independently.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wies
      Wies

      Raise the non-digital voices!

      scream for justice!

      Jan 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chuck
      Chuck

      Another sweet angel child lost to Conservative bigotry. Truly, the practice of scapegoating minorities so that you can get lower middle class people to vote against their own economic interest is not only loathsome and immoral, it costs lives like this. Way to go GOProud and your ilk. Red states are a LGBT health hazard.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 7:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Anti-Douche Patrol
      Anti-Douche Patrol

      @Chuck: Yeah. Whereas trying to use a 14-year-old’s suicide to attack people whose politics you disagree with is a totally classy move. Douchebag.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 7:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CBRad
      CBRad

      @Anti-Douche Patrol: People will often blame who they PREFER to blame.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 8:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sebizzar
      Sebizzar

      Please thumb down & flag this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oRQnRz7FZg

      And that’s just part 1, do it for all the parts if you can. I’m sick of Youtube allowing such anti-gay shit to be posted. You can report it by going here http://www.youtube.com/safety_help

      Jan 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chuck
      Chuck

      @Anti-Douche Patrol: When a kid kills himself in a state where the GOP is trying to make it against the law to even say the word ‘gay’ in schools, I’m pretty justified in attacking your evil party that blames gay people for everything under the sun in order to get your white trash base to vote against their own economic interests. If you are a gay Republican, your own self loathing, and the hatred for you of those you kiss up to is far more scathing than anything else I could say here.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 9:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Anti-Douche Patrol
      Anti-Douche Patrol

      @Chuck: I vote democrat, douchebag.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 9:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chuck
      Chuck

      @Anti-Douche Patrol: Sure you do, douchebag. Oh wow, I can use a crappy word too. I can belittle a systemic problem in one political party and reduce the argument to petty name calling. Brilliant.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Anti-Douche Patrol
      Anti-Douche Patrol

      @Chuck: Meh. You’re trying to milk a boy’s suicide to express your own political views. You don’t know what the roots of the kid’s suicide were (what was his family life like? Did he have a history of depression or other mental health issues? etc.). And you certainly have no basis for linking one party’s strategy (!!!) to his death. It makes you sound ridiculous. Not to mention callous and manipulative for seizing this kid’s death right as just a diving board for your political rants.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 9:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chuck
      Chuck

      @Anti-Douche Patrol: On the contrary Douchebag. By pointing out the evils of anti LGBT Republican politics, particularly in the very state where this kid died, maybe it will change some minds and maybe that will make some headway into people realizing that the demonization of gay people is what leads children like this who live in red states, surrounded by bigots, to think that life is hopeless. Once this becomes apparent to them and Douchebags like you, maybe then society can recognize the systemic problem of demonization and maybe the next gay kid who feels hopeless and suicidal will realize that it is just part of an evil political strategy of demonization that people in his life treat him the way they do. And maybe that will give him the courage to go on and live through the horrific treatment he receives and get to a better place, perhaps even a blue state where being gay is not something he will have to be ashamed of. Pointing this out gives his life infinite meaning. Name calling and sweeping this tragedy under the rug as you are trying to do makes this tragedy meaningless and provides the groundwork for the next suicide. Nice job, Biggest Douche in the Universe.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 9:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Anti-Douche Patrol
      Anti-Douche Patrol

      @Chuck: Either you realize what you’re doing, in which case you’re shameless, or you don’t (likely scenario) and you’re just an idiot. Either case, you’re a douchebag.

      PS: I’m leaving, so if you post a reply, I won’t be reading it :-) Have a good one, ya moron!

      Jan 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chuck
      Chuck

      @Anti-Douche Patrol: Yes, God forbid anything improves as a result of this tragedy. Gonna go watch the hatefest of the GOP debate. I assume you’ll be rooting them on. Wonder if they’ll boo another gay soldier. I suppose you think such actions have no effect on the kids of this country. L8r, defender of evil.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 10:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CBRad
      CBRad

      @Anti-Douche Patrol: Well….if they tried to blame it on anti-gay lyrics in gangsta rap (more significant in the lives of high schoolers than politics), people would call them racist. So they choose Republicans to blame. (But who do they blame for the majority of teen suicides who are heterosexual?)

      Jan 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chuck
      Chuck

      Gotta love how so many Republicans visit Queerty every day. You’d think this was the Congressional male page site, or a Minneapolis bathroom stall.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      @Chuck: You brought politics into this topic where it doesn’t belong and is innappropriate and offensive. I don’t know how to say this diplomatically, so stfu.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 10:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chuck
      Chuck

      @Kev C: I can’t bring him back and you can’t bring him back. But to not acknowledge the vitriol of the Republican party in his state which drove him and will drive future kids to kill themselves is to be a contributor to the problem.

      Jan 23, 2012 at 11:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Erik
      Erik

      I’m pretty sure if a law was passed that said teachers could be held criminally liable for the bullying that occurs in their classrooms, bullying would stop right quick.

      The adult in the room has the power to stop it.

      Jan 24, 2012 at 5:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kylew
      Kylew

      @Kev C: Kev, I gotta go with Chuck on this one. Taking offence at him pointing out that the antiquated christian-based morality of the GOP in stifling anti-bullying legislation and perpetuating a gay-hostile nation, whilst your only suggestion to avoid future bullying like this is a “gay mafia” seems really incongruous, to say nothing of wholly ridiculous.

      Jan 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • James M. Levinsohn
      James M. Levinsohn

      What LGBT people need immediately is a comprehensive, nation-wide civil rights act, preventing persecution based upon sexual orientation/gender identity history in terms of housing, employment, and education. Public schools would be required to be affirmative, rather than turning a blind eye. Like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it would no doubt experience a backlash for years to come, and it can’t change the country’s culture. But it would be a major step towards creating a more affirmative climate in the country. I’m almost 22, and came out as “bisexual” when I was 12 in 2002. Because I’m from a (somewhat) more liberal area of the country, it didn’t result in direct bullying, but it was definitely very alienating being in my small town, public school environment. I did hear disparaging remarks made from teachers, and constantly heard “faggot” and “gay” tossed around in the hallway. It was also still very uncommon then to come out in middle school…people had only started coming out in high school in large numbers around 2000, due to the influence of the Internet. It’s more common now, since the media/Internet has created a more accepting virtual environment, but it’s exposing people to violent intolerance in their school and home environments. That might be exposing more young teens to danger. That said, there’s been a positive change for LGBT teens since the ’90s, certainly, when suicide was an epidemic. Stories like this are more surprising because it’s better for many, if not most, LGBT teens in the US.

      Jan 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • krishawn cook
      krishawn cook

      i knew phillip and i hate the fact that my friend phillip parker hung his self over bullies. i loved phillip and i always will .i miss phillip ever secound of the day and i know that one day that i will see phillipn again. R.I.P PHILLIP PARKER MY LOVE GOES OUT TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

      Jan 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fidelio
      Fidelio

      OK, to all my little gay brothers and sisters, PAY ATTENTION!: If you are thinking of killing yourself because of the bullying, try this first: PUNCH THE SHIT OUT OF THE PERSON WHO IS BULLYING YOU! Regardless of the outcome, it won’t be worse that you killing yourself. Be empowered. Don’t let the bullies win. FIGHT BACK! You’ll be glad you did.

      Jan 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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