Anti-Gay Bullying Leads to Suicide of Massachusetts Student

Bullying

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"

Comments

  1. David D. says

    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.

  2. realitythink says

    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.

  3. Lane says

    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!

  4. Terry says

    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.

  5. Avi says

    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.

  6. alex in boston says

    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!!

  7. E. says

    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

    http://www.mass.gov/Eeohhs2/docs/dph/com_health/violence/bullying_prevent_guide.pdf

  8. Steve B says

    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.

  9. mike shackleford says

    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.

  10. says

    “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.

  11. Johnny says

    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.

  12. MorJ says

    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.

  13. mIKEM says

    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!

  14. Marc says

    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.

  15. Avi says

    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.

  16. Derrick from Philly says

    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.

  17. says

    @ STEVE B: No one deserves to be bullied or harassed for who they are or how they act. A child who commits suicide has been failed by the adults around him or her. Period.

    It is our responsibility, as adults, to ensure the safety of the children in our “care”.

    To look at the face of that beautiful boy and say that he is somehow responsible for the treatment he received is misguided and callous.

  18. Avi says

    I’m so upset I’m on a roll… This is based on A’s comment… I once knew a girl (a friend of a friend) who’s brother committed suicide. Her brother was gay and their parents and church had rejected him. He went to live with his sister (who was a couple of years older). The girl’s brother really believed all the lies his parents and his church had told him: that he was a sinner because he was gay (and that they would not accept him as their son). He lived a tortured existence. How could a child (he was a young teenager) cope with the fact that his own parents hated him? Well, he could no longer cope. He killed himself. What followed was, in my opinion, just the icing on the cake of evil. His sister loved her brother very much. She was distraught after his death. She told people that her brother was at least out of his pain and misery and that he was with god. Well, why did she go and say a thing like that!? She said this to her parents and church and they told her that her brother was in hell for being gay, and that she was also a sinner for loving such a person!

  19. Dave says

    I wasn’t going to comment, but I can’t look at that smiling face so full of potential for a bright future, no matter who he was going to be as an adult.

    This is just so incredibly sad. I’m a MA resident. My condolences to his family.

  20. Dave says

    Steve B: “The child is more responsible for his choices, even in 6th grade.”

    I just read your comment, and then re-read it to make sure I wasn’t mistaken.

    I can’t even begin to reply to you. You must be someone who has had to numb himself to the pain of similar abuse.

    David R – above – says it well: ” No one deserves to be bullied or harassed for who they are or how they act. A CHILD (my emphasis) who commits suicide has been failed by the adults around him or her. Period.”

    Amen.

  21. JD says

    Does anyone have their own “27 Names For Tears”?
    Mine is
    Heart Dew
    Grief Honey
    Sad Water
    Die Tranen
    Eau De Douleur
    Los Rios Del Corazon
    Iris Tea
    Bleeding Soul Drops
    Salty Eyes

    Liquid Memory
    Waterworks
    Fountain Face
    Spirit Rain
    Runny Eyes
    Eyes of Gloomy Weather
    Misery’s Sugar
    Bitter Waterslides
    Worry Wellspring

    Sadness Syrup
    Depression Lemonade
    Watery Blues
    Leaky Self-esteem
    Tonic of Heartache
    Flooded Eyes
    Melted Block of Heart
    Bitter Drinks
    Spilt Goodwill

  22. Richard W. says

    This is just TERRIBLY upsetting… This madness has got to end! 11 years old, dead, and this could have been prevented. I am appalled…

  23. City Steeple says

    Just to throw out a resource – the Trevor Project is one agency trying to stop suicide among young LGBT persons – phone # 866 4-U-TREVOR

  24. robertmalcolm says

    No words can express my sadness. It’s so incredibly sad to lose someone close to you to suicide as I did a little more than a year ago. That they see suicide as the only way to cope is something I so wished I had an answer. That Carl was only 11 years old makes it that much tougher — he had so much of life stolen from him — and for what. One can only hope that some day (and soon) our countries educators realize just how big an issue bullying (anti-gay as well as all kinds) is today.

  25. Zeke says

    But, but, but, we wouldn’t date want to limit these bullies’ freedom of speech now would we?

    I mean, that’s what’s MOST important that we protect here, right?

    I hear this nonsense spewed in the comments on this site almost daily.

    The crux of the problem here is that we live in a society where there is NOTHING more demeaning, degrading, insulting and unacceptable than being called, or suspected of being, GAY/HOMOSEXUAL/LESBIAN/TRANSGENDER.

    Until we find a way to change this hateful, ignorant, mindset we will continue to hear these heartbreaking stories over and over again.

  26. JT says

    I still think he seemed, from outside clues, like a pretty traditionally “masculine” kid. He played football and basketball. But he was also a Boy Scout. Could THAT be considered too “gay” in a predominantly African-American student body?

  27. CJ says

    “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.”

    I can fully disagree. He was 11-years old! That poor kid. You have no idea what his experience was like, or what it was like to be him. Maybe he was more fragile than you. Maybe he endured a lot more bullying than you. But to blame an 11-year old victim is inexcusable imho.

  28. Mino Xorious says

    This is touching me FAR too much. Carl Walker Hoover was one of my bet friends of all time.
    Those FUCKING idiotic bullies.
    I hope they go to hell.
    He also had a hard time in fifth grade too.
    I think about 5 people were messing with him
    repeatedly.
    I’m seriously going to miss Carl.
    R.I.P. man.
    R.I.P.

  29. TANK says

    Yes, contact and donate whatever you can to the trevor project…time…?

    This is fairly routine, but on the plus, we’re hearing about it more often. What is no longer out of sight will no longer be out of mind.

  30. says

    As many comments note, this is far more common that you realize.
    It IS possible to help these youngsters, save lives and eliminate this behavior.
    I wish to provide you all with information about a remarkable individual working in schools and communities around the world addressing issues of bullying (ALL forms), anger, hate, violence and prejudice.
    These two short videos introduce him and his work:

    http://www.teachers.tv/video/3477

    To demonstrate the impact of his program, this letter was received in March THIS year!

    Hey. My name is Katie. Three years ago you visited my old high school, in Salford, England. Before the assembly with you, I had been planning to take my own life because of the excessive bullying I was experiencing. I had a razor blade concealed behind my cell phone battery. But you made me realise it wasn’t my fault I was being bullied – it was just prejudice because the bullies didn’t understand me. You have inspired me to change other’s lives the way you have changed mine, and I plan on becoming an educational psychologist to do this. Thank you so much for changing everything. Katie x

    If you want to make a difference and save lives, I urge you to find out more about The Scary Guy – http://www.thescaryguy.com

    Please feel free to contact me at any time for more information.
    Gary Lee – garylee@thescaryguy.com

  31. says

    This really isn’t about anti-gay bullying and abuse. It’s about stopping all bullying and abuse. The bullies used whatever came to hand or mouth – their hatred of gays. The principals and school district administrators didn’t protect either boy, just like they don’t protect most targets of bullying and abuse. That’s why we need laws to force principals to act and to protect them from countersuits by bullying parents of little terrorists.

    Also notice that none of the teachers or the other kids stood up to the bullies. Shame.

    We also can’t and shouldn’t count on schools to protect our children from hurt feelings all the time. We must help our children develop the inner grit and resilience to know how to protect themselves from verbal harassment as well as from physical abuse.

    Disclosure: In addition to having six children, I’m a practical, pragmatic coach and consultant. I’ve written books of case studies, “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks.” Check out my website and blog at BulliesBeGone (http://BulliesBeGone.com).

  32. says

    I have 2 Sons whom I love very much. They are grown men now and have children of their own.
    This breaks my heart to even think that
    any one could drive a child to such an act.
    Life is so precious for our children and
    Carl did not get to live the life of a joyous child hood.
    My prayer is that this will change the love and respect children have and show toward one another.
    My heart is broken for Sirdeaner his mother. If any one is setting up a
    foundation for his cause, please call me at 817-532-2848. I would love to help support this cause.
    Connie Livengood

  33. blah says

    im sorry for you loss.
    this is getting very ridiculous, online and in person bullying needs to stop.

    again, im sorry to hear about this.
    what rude inconsiderate people.

  34. Maureen says

    Those “children” (read monsters) who bullied that boy should be made to see him in his casket. They need to be made to see what THEY did. As far as I’m concerned Carl was murdered and the school is also responsible. They let it happen. How many innocent children have to die before schools realize that this is serious!

  35. Koplen says

    The fact is that some people in the world are just close-minded and ignorant. Religions are typically to blame, too. (I’m religious, so I’m not insulting anyone’s beliefs) but we seem to think that our religions are the only ways.
    The schools are the blame for the result of this boy’s death. And I’m terribly sorry for your result.
    I am fifteen. I am a bisexual teenager in a southern environment. Yes, I’ve been “bullied” and “taunted,” but I’ve handled it better than some. The only reason I have is because I do have friends that support me. I am rejected by my family for being of the GLBT group.
    The fact is that some people can’t tolerate this kind of judgement like others. I do well because of support, but I admit the administration has done nothing to stop taunting. I appear normal and act normal, which might make my case much lighter than others, and I have never been one to be insulted and sit silent, I am violent.
    But kids, we can’t do that. Because of being called a “fagot” I have reacted violently, and been blamed for the fight. THE TEACHERS do nothing! It’s an act of immorality if you ask me!
    If you have the nerve to say you’re even a decent human being and you sit back and watch constant taunting by close-minded students, then you are just ignorant!
    My best friend killed himself two years ago because he was a bisexual. He was 18 years old and still hadn’t been able to escape redicule and rejection.

    I blame the administration for not putting an end to this.
    I’m different than others because I handle it well and laugh at everyone else’s opinion, and that’s what we should be teaching our kids! How to know that the only people that matter are the only ones that love them!
    I’m a proud speaker of valuing your life, and the fact that administraion will sit back and watch someone provoke another kid to kill him/herself is disgusting.

    We need to do something.

    My name is Amber Koplen.
    I am 15, and I’m proudly and independantly bisexual.

  36. DruFromEL says

    My sympathy goes out to the family.

    But we need to think about why this really happens.

    If we would just teach kids not to let themselves feel offended and to turn a bully’s attempts to harrass into a joke(unless it’s serious bullying like physical bullying, for that teach your kid martial arts). First we need to stop teaching our kids that certain things are “offensive”. Instead we should teach kids that others find certain things “offensive”, and that the kids do not need to find them “offensive” but they should be respectful if someone else(including their parents or their friends) does. Nothing is truly offensive until someone is offended.

    Bullying is a 2-way street. Someone chooses to bully and someone chooses to be a victim. Our society raises us up with a victim mentality saying that if X happens to you then Y will happen to your mind and there’s nothing you can do about it. That isn’t true. You always have a choice about how you respond to things.

    Anybody reading this, you do NOT have to be a victim. What ever people are saying about you that says something about their thoughts and perceptions. The bottom line is people aren’t always right so don’t take what they say about you seriously.

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