With five gay teens taking their lives this month alone, it was only a matter of time before those who’ve dealt with — and survived — similar abuse began sharing their story.
Jayron Martin was 16-years-old in November 2009 when he says he reported to staff at Langham Creek High School he was going to be jumped on after school. Martin says no one helped and he boarded his schoolbus. He says when he got off the bus in his neighborhood he was chased by nine classmates and attacked. “There’s no one that’s there that you can say, ‘Ok this is going on. Can you help me?’ There’s no one there,” Martin says.
Lakenya Martin says the adults her son turned to overwhelmingly let him down. “Very much so. As well as it lets down a community,” Lakenya says. The teenager says he was attacked because he’s gay. “You’re looked at as the opposite and when you’re the opposite of anything you’re looked at as the bad person,” the now 17-year-old Jayron says.
And the story Seth Walsh, another 13-year-old who died after 10 days on life support following a hanging attempt from a tree, resonates with Valorie Dixon, who says her daughter faced the same torment at school — for falsely being branded a lesbian.
Valorie Dixon says relentless bullying left her daughter scarred not only physically, but emotionally. It began when her daughter’s classmate, started a false rumor that she was gay. Dixon says, “Her face had been beaten into the sidewalk, was all bruised swollen, her eye, her fingers from clawing at the ground were all torn and cut up. It was just horrible.”
Dixon will never forget the day she saw her 13-year-old daughter in the hospital after she had been beaten at a local park. “I believe that it started on the school bus with a boy that put his hand on her leg and she pushed his hand off. And then I believe the boy then started rumors about her sexuality, his perception, and then one day at the park there was a group of about seven kids that ganged up on her,” explains Dixon.
Because it happened at a park, the school could not punish the teens. Dixon pursued charges against the attackers, but only one was charged with assault. “One of the girls actually beat her up, chased her, knocked her down, sat on her back, punched her so hard in the head that she broke her own wrist doing it,” says Dixon.
Just one month later, Dixon says her daughter was bullied and beaten up again, this time at school. “The school gave them a suspension, a one day suspension, and it was a Friday,” she says.
No parent wants to point to their child and say “Learn from this,” because no parent wants her child to experience something so awful that others have something to learn from. But that’s where we are now, especially this month, with five gay young people taking their own lives.