Lessons from a Mom Who Lost Her Son to Anti-Gay Bullying...Over and over again we keep seeing the names. Justin Aaberg. Billy Lucas. Asher Brown. Seth Walsh. Tyler Clementi. Five students, all bullied or harassed on the basis of their sexual orientation, to the point where suicide became in their minds the only option.
They represent a gamut of ages (from 13 to 18), and they cover nearly every region of the country -- Minnesota, Indiana, Texas, California, and New Jersey. Red, blue and purple states alike, a reminder that bullying and LGBT suicide happens everywhere, in liberal pockets of the country and in conservative epicenters, too.
Last night, the parents of one of these students, Asher Brown, appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 (AC360). It's a heartbreaking segment, but the message they have for other parents, as well as for LGBT students, should probably be broadcast in every classroom, at every school board meeting, and at every PTA meeting around the country.
Asher's mother, Amy Truong, went into great detail about the type of harassment and bullying that her son experienced as a student at Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District.
"They picked on him and called him nasty names, the disparaging comments they use toward homosexuals," Truong noted, adding that Asher was also picked on because of his size and the fact that he liked to read books.
For their part, the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District has tried to wash their hands of any responsibility in Asher's death, noting that they never noticed that Asher was being bullied, and that no complaints came in to the school. But a quick perusal of comments from other parents in the district, not to mention statements made by Asher's parents, seem to indicate that the School District was well aware that bullying was taking place, and has been a rampant problem in the district for quite some time.
"We have no reason to lie about the fact that we went to [the school district] for help to make it stop," Amy Truong said. Asked by Anderson Cooper why she thought the school district was denying that they knew about the bullying, Truong put it bluntly: "Because my son killed himself. And he's gone, and we can't bring him back and they realized what they did was wrong."
Tragically, though it's been a few days since Asher's suicide, there's still no mention of it on the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District homepage, nor any information available about bullying, either how to confront it, or what to do if you experience it. On their own safety page on their Web site (which you have to dig quite far to access), the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District will tell you how to prevent Swine Flu, how to stay safe riding a bicycle, how to stay cool in hot temperatures, and how to stay informed about the West Nile Virus. But not one mention about what to do if you are a victim of bullying, nor any mention about the safety and dignity of LGBT students.
Talk about turning a blind eye.
Amy Truong closed her appearance on Anderson Cooper last night with a message to students, educators and parents alike. It's a critically important message.
"Please, if you have children that you think may be bullied, if they seem sad or withdrawn, and you ask questions and they say 'they're fine,' push past that. Push past the 'I'm fine.' It's extremely important. These kids are worried about retribution for speaking up. Not only speaking up for themselves, but speaking up for their friends that are getting picked on," Truong said. "We've got to make this stop. I don't want my son to have died in vain. And I can't bring my baby back, but if I can help some other family to not have to go through this, then it's worth it."
So how about it, will the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District do what's necessary to help curb bullying, and anti-gay bullying? Send them a message urging them to do so now. http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/lessons_from_a_mom_who_lost_her_son_to_anti-gay_bullying
This post was modified from its original form on 30 Sep, 18:12