Mother of gay teen who killed himself advocates for LGBT school lessons
The mother of a 17-year-old boy who took his own life after being bullied for coming out as gay has stressed the importance of LGBT+ education in schools.
Pat Sowa, whose son Dom took his own life in October 2017, thinks LGBT+ inclusive sex education lessons can reduce the risk of a repeat tragedy, according to The Times.
“My biggest thing now is to try to stop this happening to any other family,” Sowa told a group of teachers at the Association of School and College Leaders’ annual conference in Birmingham on Saturday (March 16).
Sowa, who prior to October 2017 was the headteacher at a primary school in Yorkshire, argued: “Children should be taught LGBT in primary schools.”
The Times reports that she told the delegation: “We run the risk of thinking we have cracked homophobia.”
Sowa declared her backing for same-sex relationship education only a few miles away from Birmingham’s Parkfield Community School, which recently dropped LGBT-inclusive lessons following backlash from parents.
In the wake of the controversy that saw hundreds of people protest LGBT+ education, Sowa used her platform to argue that “the more we normalise talking about [LGBT issues], the easier it is.”
Dom Sowa takes his own life after being bullied for being gay
Sowa described the events that took place after Dom came out on Facebook aged 14, saying he initially felt proud of his decision.
But Dom was bulled “old-style at school” as well as “on social media,” the Times reports his mother saying.
“He was pushed against the walls in corridors. No one would pair up with him in PE. They shouted ‘faggot’ as he went to and from school. When he was going into assembly there were comments below the teachers’ radar. His grades went downhill and he started skipping lessons,” Miss. Sowa said.
First Hopewalk in Dom’s memory today. He died 29.10.2017 after battling social anxiety. We miss him every day which is why we are so determined to support the work of @PAPYRUS_tweets saving young lives. Thanks @HarrogateGS pic.twitter.com/FlTbyDwuR4
— Pat Sowa (@pat_sowa) October 27, 2018
Online, the abuse continued when, according to his mother, “someone took photos of him when he was at a party and published them. He described this in the notes from his counselling, which we received after his death, as like being raped.”
Dom switched schools, and for a time Sowa “thought he had turned the corner. He was making plans for university or art college.”
However, the boy’s mother said the bullying had a lasting impact on Dom’s mental health, and he chose to end his life in his final year of school.
“I am going to have a Dom-shaped hole for ever,” said Sowa.
Parkfield Community School drops ‘crucial’ LGBT+ lessons after protests
Birmingham primary school Parkfield recently stopped its LGBT-inclusive No Outsiders programme after more than 500 parents reportedly refused to send their children to school.
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Parkfield has said the lessons will only resume after a consultation with every parent, despite Ofsted’s report that there is “no evidence” the lessons are not age appropriate.
The UK government’s schools regulator investigated Parkfield Community School after protests were held by conservative parents against it teaching lessons on LGBT+ rights.
In a recent report, the charity found that almost half of LGBT+ schoolchildren are victims of homophobic or transphobic bullying. Three in five lesbian, gay or bisexual children self-harm, a number which rises to four in five when it comes to trans children. One in five LGB children and two in five trans children have reported attempting suicide.