In Pakistan, it’s apparently possible to interchange the words “happy” and gay” — at least to one open lesbian, who is both. But shockingly, the retired Superior Court judge hired by Jaheem Herrera‘s school to review whether anti-gay bullying led to his suicide decided that students who were calling him “gay” only meant to declare the 11-year-old boy was “happy.” It’s a farce.
Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore (pictured, below), who was hired by the DeKalb School System (currently being sued by Jaheem’s mother Masika Bermudez), found nothing wrong with kids throwing the word at Jaheem.
The Southern Voice quotes Moore last week at a press conference: “The children use ‘gay’ for anything and everything. The clothing is gay, the gesture is gay, what they say is gay, and that is a term they use. Now with these students we asked them, ‘Well, what does gay mean?’ They said ‘gay means happy,’ and this is many of the students.”
Well that certainly excuses things! No wonder Moore — a friend to environmentalists, apparently — allowed herself last month to conclude it was the recent family deaths Jaheem was dealing with that led him to hang himself with a belt, and not the torment he was subjected to at school.
Too bad even David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators, understands kids use the word “gay” almost exclusively as a pejorative: “With kids that age, they know it’s a derogatory comment. Some know what it means, some don’t, but they think it’s an insult.”
Moore’s finding effectively leaves the Georgia school district off the hook for wrong-doing, at least internally (Bermudez’s lawsuit remains). The conclusion also shows the stunning failure of the school to police itself and begin a satisfactory attempt at preventing another incident like this from happening.
Even if Jaheem’s classmates didn’t know the sexual semantics of what it is to be “gay,” they understood full well how to use the word in a negative context. It’s also unclear whether students’ name-calling branched out into more obvious derogatory terms, like “fag” and “homo,” but we’ve prepared ourselves to fear the worst.