Bullying | Education | GLSEN | News

Anti-Gay Bullying Leads to Suicide of Massachusetts Student


Last Friday I mentioned Eric Mohat, the late Ohio high school student whose parents are suing the school for its complicity in bullying they say led to the suicide of their son.

Now comes news of another similar, horrifying suicide also brought on by anti-gay bullying:

"Two days after the worst day of her life, when she found her 11-year-old son had committed suicide by hanging himself, Sirdeaner L. Walker said on Wednesday she wants the bullying to stop. She found Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover (above) hanging by an extension cord on the second floor of their 124 Northampton Ave. home Monday night after he had endured another day of taunting at New Leadership Charter School, where he was a sixth-grader, she said...She phoned the school repeatedly since Carl began attending in September but the bullying continued, she said. Other students made him a target, daily calling him gay, making fun of how he dressed and threatening him, she said"

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  1. These stories continue to break my heart.
    I hate that the Freepers blame these kids because "they chose to act gay... if they had only tired to actor normal" etc.

    Posted by: Stephen | Apr 9, 2009 11:06:44 AM

  2. Yeah, that's right up there with "If only black people would act more white."

    Many schools take racial bullying and sexual harassment seriously, but unfortunately turn a blind eye to anti-gay bullying, thinking it is somehow less serious, inevitable or impossible to police.

    Until someone dies.

    Posted by: David D. | Apr 9, 2009 11:12:08 AM

  3. This is so depressing....

    Posted by: Rowan | Apr 9, 2009 11:15:04 AM

  4. I have an 11 year old boy and it just boggles my mind to think that he and his peers would even consider doing this to themselves.
    I've spoken to his principle on several occasions about incorporating anti-gay bullying into the curriculum to no avail.
    Having gay parents adds a whole new target for bullying of these kids.
    I'll be speaking with them again today and attaching this story to an email to all of them.

    Posted by: realitythink | Apr 9, 2009 11:31:01 AM

  5. That this happened in Massachusetts is a painful reminder that we still have a long way to go.

    I am so deeply sorry for the loss of this boy.

    THIS is the result of MassResistance's hate mongering.
    This is why the Massachusetts Commision on GLBT Youth is important.

    Even with all the progress we've made, on marriage, civil rights, and youth protection, we still failed this boy.

    I'm under no false illusion that Camenker and his ilk will recognize their complicity in this death, but I hope that other children -- and adults -- will step back and take a look and say "What can I do to prevent this from happening again," and then take action.

    Anti-gay bullying is real, and strikes even in the heart of areas we consider "safe."

    He was only 11! A sixth grader!

    Posted by: Lane | Apr 9, 2009 11:39:44 AM

  6. :-(

    Posted by: liz templin | Apr 9, 2009 11:41:45 AM

  7. Anti-gay bulling isn't taken seriously by many schools. They consider as part of a rites of male passage. Now with gay marriage such a hot issue, I'm not sure if anti-gay bullying will get the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, it will probably get worse. My advice for gay youth, especially in areas where it's not accepted: stay in school, get good grades, go to college, get a job, and get as far away as you can. Sorry to be cynical but it's probably the only way to survive.

    Posted by: Terry | Apr 9, 2009 11:45:38 AM

  8. This is incredibly sad. What's very upsetting about it is that it happens a lot more than any of us realizes. Most of the suicides don't make news headlines, and the anti-gay bullying is more wide-spread than we think. RealityThink, I am behind you in spirit and I applaud you for being a decent, loving parent who not only cares about your own child, but the welfare of all children. My parents were gay activists before it was in vogue. I was never bullied for being gay. I was never discriminated against for being gay, at least not to my face. But I am aching over the fact that so many children are tortured on a daily basis. I have known children growing up who were bullied by anti-gay hate mongers and I always defended them. I blame their evangelical christian parents who make hateful comments in the home and teach their children to hate, not to mention a great deal of the suicides that I used to hear about were of gay and lesbian children that were violently rejected and ridiculed by their evangelical christian parents.

    Posted by: Avi | Apr 9, 2009 11:53:34 AM

  9. Hang the little fuckers.

    Posted by: David | Apr 9, 2009 11:54:40 AM

  10. I live only a few miles from this boys home and i read the papers here in boston daily I HAD NOT HEARD OF THIS UNTIL TOWLEROAD REPORTED THIS!!!!!!!!!!!! SAD SAD SAD!!
    Yes the hate mongering from MassResistance is clearly the prime mover here in MA on issues of schools and anti-gay issues... Brian C is a wingnut that even the wingnuts do not want to associate with!!

    Posted by: alex in boston | Apr 9, 2009 11:56:19 AM

  11. This is so sad. My son (12) is currently being bullied with anti-gay taunts. His school is aware and taking steps. But it is ridiculous that anti-gay taunts are still thought of as being less serious than other comments at many schools in the county. Last year, the State of Massachusetts put out a great guide called "Direct from the Field: A Guide to Bullying Prevention." I guess this school didn't bother to read even the two page overview.

    Overview (http://www.mass.gov/Eeohhs2/docs/dph/com_health/violence/bullying_data_guide_overview.pdf)

    Full Report


    Posted by: E. | Apr 9, 2009 12:04:04 PM

  12. The sad thing is that even with anti gay protection and laws there are other forces at work that will bring events that we don't want into our lives.

    Laws can treat us equally of course but they can't regulate an individual's behavior or how we react to particular circumstances.

    In H.S. I was bullied too, but I didn't and wouldn't have harmed myself over that. Sometimes, though difficult, we have to take responsibility for how we react to the negative events that life throws at us sometimes.

    The child is more responsible for his choices, even in 6th grade.

    Posted by: Steve B | Apr 9, 2009 12:04:38 PM

  13. This is so sad. I hope they charge the school's administration for failure to act.

    Posted by: AS13 | Apr 9, 2009 12:13:16 PM

  14. Alex -- the incident was in Springfield, so I'm not surprised it got little-to-no coverage in the Boston media.

    Posted by: tjc | Apr 9, 2009 12:14:25 PM

  15. my heart and prayers go out to the family

    Posted by: joe | Apr 9, 2009 12:25:40 PM

  16. I thought charter schools were a step above the public ed. rabble.. shows what I know. Meantime homey shoulda done what any young AA bro woulda done when faced w disrespect, brought in a gun & shot their mo-fo azz.

    Posted by: mike shackleford | Apr 9, 2009 12:33:32 PM

  17. "The child is more responsible for his choices, even in 6th grade."

    I have a hard time agreeing with that, but I also can't disagree.

    There's no telling what kind of language the child was enduring. If he was gay, there's no telling how continued hateful taunts could affect him. He could have chosen this course to end the taunts, but he might also have thought he was doing it to protect his mom from finding out he was gay.

    It's been quite a few years, but I recall how kids in elementary and jr. high can be pack animals, feeding off each others' hate and ignorance, and once someone becomes a target, they can be relentless.

    It's not just taunting to a child that age, it's Torture. "Sticks and Stones" My ASS!

    And knowing there is no relief, that he has to go back every day to that same painful and dangerous environment where, clearly, no one was there to protect him. Options can seem limited for a desperate young man.

    Posted by: MikeinSanJose | Apr 9, 2009 12:53:17 PM

  18. Bullying in schools needs to stop, period. What kind of bullying or for what reason shouldn't matter at all.

    What happened to the so called Zero Tolerance policy?

    I'm sure all of his teachers turned a blind eye to it. They're the one's at fault. Not the children, and not the parents. Teachers can and do see these things and many choose to ignore it with the excuse that they can't disrupt the class to send someone to the principle's office.

    I went through the same garbage all through school.

    Nothing ever changes.

    Posted by: Johnny | Apr 9, 2009 12:59:12 PM

  19. :-(

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Apr 9, 2009 1:05:45 PM

  20. During my high school days, because of my flamboyance (and no, it's not an act, it's as unforced as breathing), I was picked on a lot and people still fail to understand the extent of what bullying does to the mental well-being of a person, let alone a child.
    The reality is that homophobia is a strong component. We discuss and complain, but nothing is being done and this is what happens.

    Posted by: MorJ | Apr 9, 2009 1:18:49 PM

  21. This won't stop until principals and teachers are put in jail for complicity and/or negligence.

    Child endangerment: placing a child in a potentially harmful situation, either through negligence or misconduct.

    If we are a nation of laws, then lets be a nation of Law!

    Posted by: mIKEM | Apr 9, 2009 1:19:46 PM

  22. Okay, enough is enough. Being gay and not having children myself I've been inclined to stay away from the arena of primary and secondary education but if kids are continuing to being subjected to anti-gay harassment in the schools (whether they are gay or not), to the point that the only option becomes suicide then something needs to be done. We (the GLBT community) need to start being more hands on regarding policy in the school environment. This shit was happening when I was in school 30 years ago and it's clear that it isn't going to stop unless something is done.

    Posted by: Marc | Apr 9, 2009 1:45:30 PM

  23. Poor boy. Barely more than a baby. So incredibly sad there's nothing worth saying.

    Posted by: R | Apr 9, 2009 1:55:59 PM

  24. MORJ is absoultely right. None of my childhood friends who were bullied "chose" to be flamboyant no more than I chose to come across as masculine (which is not a choice, either)(although I can't see that I'm really all that masculine, but that's what people perceive, anyway). People seem to believe that gays and lesbians choose to "act" a certain way for whatever reason (these same people also believe, which I do not, that GLBT persons choose to be GLBT (I believe we are ALL born with our sexuality; it's NOT a choice)). We don't have any control over how masculine or feminine we are when we're born. Masculinity and femininity is also not an indicator of sexuality. Certain people can train themselves over time to appear more masculine to satisfy society's warped views of the definition of what it means to be male and female. But I know for me my sexuality and behavior is inherent and I was raised in an environment that accepted me as "normal". I actually enjoy my flamboyant friends more than my "butch" ones because my flamboyant friends tend to speak their minds and what you see is what you get. People are too caught up in their own prejudices to allow other people their right to live. Religion is, as someone wrote, a personal choice and belief. No one has any right to impose their beliefs on anyone -- especially legally! I am an observant Jew and in my religion as I understand it, I am not to go around telling others from other faiths how they should live and what they should believe or disbelieve. I have studied my religion since I was young enough to read and from what I know and my parents have taught me, G-d loves me. He doesn't want me to be heterosexual because if he did He would have made me that way; He wants me to be EXACTLY as He created me. That's what I believe and that's what my parents taught me -- and they are religious people who were/are well respected in our community.

    Posted by: Avi | Apr 9, 2009 1:58:06 PM

  25. Heart-breaking. Sometimes I wonder if it is less painful to deal with gay-bashing, anti-gay bullying and harrassment when you actually are gay--especially those of us who couldn't hide in "the closet" even if we tried. Some of us are forced to develop a rather thick skin rather early....atleast it appears to be thick and tough. The damage can stay hidden for a long time.

    I wish someone could have helped this sensitive and vulnerable boy.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Apr 9, 2009 2:11:12 PM

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