Hangin' w/ Mr. Cooper

Jaheem Herrera’s Classmates Called Him ‘Gay’ Too Many Times

Who knows if Anderson Cooper was tormented for being a homo when he was a boy. As Gloria Vanderbilt’s son, the Coop lived inside a bubble of status and privilege, but it’d be silly to think mom’s world didn’t frown upon The Gheys. They were okay to have as friends — but as your own son? Nevermind all that, because Andy is once again dedicating airtime to a tormented little boy who took his own life. Masika Bermudez, the mother of 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera, who hung himself last week after enduring anti-gay torment at school. At Jaheem’s memorial service, Masika told friends and family to make sure their children aren’t “afraid to talk to your mother.”

What we appreciate most about AC360‘s interview with Masika: She identifies exactly what was done to harass her son. Above all else, it was calling him “gay.” The U.S. Virgin Islands native was targeted by other students because he looked different and spoke with an accent. This, in a school where students signed “anti-bullying” pledges.

Masika says she complained to school officials about the bullying, but nothing was done. Other parents repeat a similar story. Research into kids who are bullied says most believe there’s nothing adults can do about it. Masika, who removed her other children from school and will return to St. Croix, says she lost her son because he gave up when his complaints did nothing to protect him.

Watch the second part of this segment with Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, The Bullied, and the Bystander, who is one of few who seem to have a handle on this dire situation — and what can be done about it not just at the institutional level, but on an individual basis.