Seth Walsh, a Californian teenager who spent nine days in hospital on life support following a suicide attempt, died Tuesday. His is the third death in as many weeks because of anti-gay bullying.
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13-year-old Seth Walsh (pictured) was found Sunday, September 19 unconscious and not breathing after attempting to hang himself from a tree in his backyard. Having slipped into a coma, he was airlifted to hospital and put on life support. He died Tuesday afternoon.
He is survived by his mother Wendy Walsh, grandmother Judy Walsh and three siblings. Said Judy Walsh of her grandson’s passing: “He passed away in a natural death. He is in the process of being an organ donor.”
Bullying over Walsh’s sexuality had been going on for years and even happened on the day that Walsh attempted to take his own life. A police investigation was launched but police have said that they can not take action against those who bullied Seth because this does not constitute a crime.
Tehachapi police investigators interviewed some of the young people who taunted Seth the day he hanged himself and determined despite the tragic outcome of their ridicule, their actions do not constitute a crime.
Several of the kids that we talked to broke down into tears,” Jeff Kermode, Tehachapi Police Chief, said. “They had never expected an outcome such as this.”
He said the students told investigators they wish they had put a stop to the bullying and not participated in it.
Friends said Seth was picked on for years because he was gay.
School administrators said they have an anti-bullying program in place, but schoolmates said staff at Jacobsen Middle School in Tehachapi offered Seth no protection or guidance.
Walsh’s grandmother is keen to dissuade from blaming others:
Judy Walsh appealed for tolerance within the community.
“We are hoping the community will develop more tolerance for different people,” she said.
“He was different. He knew he was different,” she said. “He was a very loving boy, very kind. He had a beautiful smile. He liked fashion, his friends, talking on the phone. He was artistic and very bright.”
She said that no one person is to blame for Seth’s death. The family has appealed for kindness toward one another and for the community to reject vengeance and anger.
“We all let him down. It’s not any one person’s fault, or one individual.”
The following is a YouTube video Seth Walsh’s sister created before Seth passed away on Tuesday when there was still hope that he might recover. It’s message against bullying seems especially important now:
A memorial service for Seth Walsh will be held Friday, October 1.
This is the third death related to anti-gay bullying that has occurred in the past month. Many readers will be familiar with the awful story of Indiana teen Billy Lucas who, although not identifying as gay, took his own life a few weeks ago after a sustained campaign of harassment because of his perceived sexuality, a fact the school says it was unaware of.
Last Thursday, 13-year-old Texas born Asher Brown came home from school, took up his stepfather’s pistol, which was stored on a closet shelf, and shot himself. He left no suicide note, but his mother and stepfather believe they know the reason.
Asher had endured “constant” harassment at the hands of four other children at Hamilton Middle School in Houston. Despite his parents saying they complained to the school several times, school officials dispute that claim.
According to recent reports, this denial has greatly upset Brown’s parents:
School district spokeswoman Kelli Durham, whose husband Alan Durham is a Hamilton assistant principal, said no students, school employees or the boy’s parents ever reported that he was being bullied.
That statement infuriated the Truongs [Asher's mother and stepfather], who accused the school district of protecting the bullies and their parents.
“That’s absolutely inaccurate — it’s completely false,” Amy Truong said. “I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. … It’s like they’re calling us liars.”
David Truong said, “We want justice. The people here need to be held responsible and to be stopped. It did happen. There are witnesses everywhere.”
On the morning Asher killed himself, he came out to his stepfather, something that his parents say they accepted and did not judge him over.
The day before, his parents say Asher suffered being kicked down the stairs at school:
His most recent humiliation occurred the day before his suicide, when another student tripped Brown as he walked down a flight of stairs at the school, his parents said.
When Brown hit the stairway landing and went to retrieve his book bag, the other student kicked his books everywhere and kicked Brown down the remaining flight of stairs, the Truongs said.
Durham said that incident was investigated, but turned up no witnesses or video footage to corroborate the couple’s claims.
In the wake of events like these, it is important to not blindly point fingers or make accusations — but in general terms, it is clear that something is still going very wrong in our schools, and bullying based on a child’s perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity expression is still not being tackled properly, either because of a lack of training or, more frighteningly, because of personal bias that school officials may have against LGBTs as a whole.
And then there’s also the very real resistance anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family offer when it comes to LGBT inclusive anti-bullying policies, arguing that they are a back-door way for gay groups to infiltrate schools with their gay agenda.
I’ll put this bluntly: The only gay agenda in schools today is trying to make it through unscathed.
Don’t Suffer in Silence, Get Help
The Trevor Project runs a 24/7 helpline with trained counselors ready to listen if you or someone you know would like to talk about the issues dealt with in this post.
The Trevor Project Helpline number is 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386).
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Read more: asher brown, billy lucas, bullying, civil rights, Cyberbullying, education, gay rights, lgbt rights, national coming out day, safe schools improvement act, seth walsh, straight advocacy, suicide, the trevor project, transgender rights, we give a damn
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