Mother of gay suicide teen pleads for anti-bullying action
The mother of a California teenager who killed himself after he was bullied for being gay has pleaded with his school district to do more about the problem.
Seth Walsh, 13, died nine days after hanging himself in September. He had endured years of homophobic bullying at school.
His mother Wendy and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have asked Tehachapi school district to prevent another tragedy.
In a letter sent yesterday, they asked the school district to work with them and demanded that changes be made.
Mrs Walsh has also recorded a video (see below) about her son.
She said that teachers did not seem to care that her son was badly bullied and had done nothing to stop the harassment.
She said: “Seth told me he was gay when he was in the sixth grade. He was a wonderful, loving child, and I loved him for who he was.
“I can’t bring my son back. But schools can make a difference today to keep this from happening to any more young people. Schools need to take harassment and bullying seriously when parents or students tell them about it, and when they see it in the halls.”
According to Seth’s mother and close friends, some teachers even joined in the bullying. One allegedly called him “fruity” in front of a class of students.
Mrs Walsh said her son was a clever student but his grades had fallen as the harassment intensified. She said teachers were aware he was suffering but did not respond to her pleas for something to be done.
His friends said he had become depressed and frightened about using the bathroom or boys’ changing room before gym class.
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He was taunted with abuse such as “fag” and “queer”, they said.
Seth hanged himself from a tree in the family garden on September 17th. He left a note criticising his school for not helping him and died in hospital on September 28th.
An investigation carried out by the ACLU said that school district officials were aware of the bullying but “largely ignored” it.
California law requires schools to protect students from harassment based on sexual orientation and the US Department of Education has also launched an investigation of the school district.
The ACLU says that at least 11 LGBT teenagers have killed themselves after suffering bullying in the last few months.
“Students have the right to be safe and supported at school for being exactly who they are. And parents deserve to know that their kids are going to school in a respectful environment where they are nurtured to reach their full potential,” said Elizabeth Gill, staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project and the ACLU of Northern California.
“Public schools have a duty to protect students from harassment based on sexual orientation, but too many schools get a failing grade in this respect.”