Bullying | Gay Slurs | News

Mother of Kid Who Committed Suicide After Bullying Wants Action

The Advocate talks to Sirdeaner Walker, the mother of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, the 11-year-old student who killed himself last week following relentless bullying at school:

Walker "On April 6, Sirdeaner Walker came home, walked up the stairs to the second floor of her home, and saw her son suspended from a support beam in the stairwell, swaying slightly in the air, an extension cord wrapped around his neck, according to police. He apologized in a suicide note, told his mother that he loved her, and left his video games to his brother.

Walker said her son had been the victim of bullying since the beginning of the school year, and that she had been calling the school since September, complaining that her son was mercilessly teased. He played football, baseball, and was a boy scout, but a group of classmates called him gay and teased him about the way he dressed. They ridiculed him for going to church with his mother and for volunteering locally.

"It's not just a gay issue," Walker said. "It’s bigger. He was 11 years old, and he wasn't aware of his sexuality. These homophobic people attach derogatory terms to a child who’s 11 years old, who goes to church, school, and the library, and he becomes confused. He thinks, Maybe I'm like this. Maybe I'm not. What do I do?"

Walker is demanding action from the school. At this point it's what she has left.

School Yard Bully [the advocate]

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Comments

  1. sadness

    Posted by: Sam | Apr 14, 2009 6:25:42 PM


  2. I'll say it again: he sounds pretty traditionally "masculine" to me, with playing football and basketball. Was he called "gay" for being too.....goody-goody? (With the church work and stuff?) He needed somebody to teach him to kick ass, right back, a little harder.

    Posted by: JT | Apr 14, 2009 6:39:50 PM


  3. If a parent caught a babysitter repeatedly abusing a child, physically or mentally she would have a perfect case to, in the least, make sure that person was never put into a position caring for children again. She has a perfect lawsuit. I'd sue if for no other reason than to bring to the fore this school's failure to protect children under its watch.

    Posted by: philbert | Apr 14, 2009 6:42:35 PM


  4. These stories break my heart. And make me think that maybe some of our GLBT groups should change. For example, the millions that GLAAD raises could go to school programs instead...just a thought.

    Posted by: matt chicago | Apr 14, 2009 7:00:44 PM


  5. I think everyone experienced bullying in school, which is why this sort of thing is dismissed. Administrators have to take responsibility though. Most kids never complain to their parents about bullying, so the fact that they were hearing about it from his mother means that something had to be happening. Of course you won't see kids going to jail for stuff like this, but you need school-wide education and strong responses to specific behavior in order to teach students what's what.

    Posted by: AG | Apr 14, 2009 7:04:16 PM


  6. Most 11 year olds I know are complete brats...Carl sounds like the sweetest kid ever. Incredibly upsetting :(

    Posted by: peter | Apr 14, 2009 7:11:19 PM


  7. Exactly, JT.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Apr 14, 2009 7:12:11 PM


  8. This is a case of kids being terrorised. Until it can be equated as such there's no chance of bullyng being forcefully addressed. Meantime parents need to start withholding the portion of their taxes that supports public schools.

    Then again, this kid went to a charter school & you mean to tell me that this alleged improvement" in public ed was no better? Sheesh...

    Posted by: mike shackleford | Apr 14, 2009 7:28:40 PM


  9. JT and Kev: Are you trying to suggest that perhaps the child was too sissy to survive with the jocks? Go screw yourselves.

    Posted by: Rami | Apr 14, 2009 7:33:54 PM


  10. This story should get to people in the ARTS community. My God - the joy and talent that Music Itself lost last week.
    His story should be told before EVERY Broadway show or music recital.

    Carl looked just like many of the 11-year-olds I used to teach music to every day; a young artist. We lost music.

    I'm afraid as human beings many of us will ALWAYS see suicide as THE answer when there is no hope NOR a safe place to go for help. ALL children, but esp. Queer kids need to be aware of SAFE places to go where they can share their thoughts, fears, and feelings WITHOUT judgement. As adults we need to make sure these places exist for our younger Queer family.

    Posted by: John Bisceglia | Apr 14, 2009 8:16:41 PM


  11. @Rami nobody was suggesting any such thing so why dont you go screw yourself.Jesus Christ! I learned to kick ass when I was in school and trust me,by senior year in High school nobody thought to fuck with me.I had no friends in school by senior year and I became a recluse for that year,just went to school every day and worked my fuckin ass off to make sure that I indeed got my High School diploma so I wouldnt have to see any of their ugly faces again.EVER! And No,I didnt show up for graduation,I showed up at the end of that day to pick up my diploma,with that "All of you mother fuckers can kiss my ASS" look on my face.High School is probably THE WORST place for a struggling gay teen.I could tell you things I went through that will keep you from eating for the rest of the Week.I sad part now is that this kind of tormenting and harassment is happening in Elementary Schools.Kids suck,it takes an Adult to keep em in line,If these jackasses did their job to begin with,this 11 year old boy would still be alive.We would hear less stories like this,and Maybe Just Maybe,schools will be atleast .04% safer.

    Posted by: Sean | Apr 14, 2009 8:16:48 PM


  12. The only problem with kicking butt JT is that he would end up being the one who got in trouble. That would have only encouraged the bullies that they could get away with what they were doing.

    Posted by: Ken | Apr 14, 2009 8:42:55 PM


  13. The elephant in the room, which is not "P.C" is that this may have more to do with his "acting white" by studying,church-going and not being a homeboy thug in training. Depending upon the racial makeup of this charter school, being too much of a "goody two-shoes" could be even more dangerous than being perceived as a sissy. Some of you, and the Advocate editors included want to make him a gay martyr on very little evidence, since (unfortunately) calling someone "gay" is the insult of choice in today's schools having zilch to do with actual sexual desire.

    Posted by: Contrarian | Apr 14, 2009 8:47:37 PM


  14. How about contributing to GLSEN and/or supporting your local queer youth group?

    I never learned to kick ass and never had a single fight (we're talking 50s and 60s). I guess I was lucky, but I think teaching kids to fight back physically may not be the best tactic. Some of us were sissies and some found other ways to cope. Bottom line: Schools should be safe.

    We have to stop the right wing from preventing anti-bullying programs or from de-gaying them. We all know who gets bullied most, and it ain't the Christian kids. It has to stop.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Apr 14, 2009 8:51:56 PM


  15. i don't think most kids know how to defend themselves against bullies at the age of 11. maybe in middle school and high school they do.

    the mother mentions how they teased him about the way he dressed. i don't know what that means, but i am assuming he dressed very nicely.

    so what if he played football and volunteered? that still gives nobody the right to constantly throw slurs - and i dont care what the slurs are...they are what they are. i think someone definitely needs to be held accountable. the fact that she had to keep calling the school over and over and over again? horrible.

    Posted by: liz templin | Apr 14, 2009 9:22:24 PM


  16. I'm gay, though I did not know it at the time when I was bullied in the 6th grade, relentlessly. I was a pariah then and no one would talk to me, except to say something hurtful. I did not feel strong. I did not have someone who could help me learn how to fight back, and ghosts of weakness will plague me at turns throughout my life, no matter how strong I might feel at others. I am now almost 46: partnered for 15 years, openly queer, a business owner and generally a good citizen. My rage grows with every story like this, every situation in which the society as a whole makes it OK to diminish anyone's humanity, whatever the differentiating issue, every politician who lacks the political will or bravery to adequately represent those constituencies who live in some way outside of the mainstream. How do we foster a culture in which it becomes safe to respect that people who are different from me, are not really that different from me? My heart goes out to his poor family.

    Posted by: Chris Barnett | Apr 14, 2009 9:29:58 PM


  17. Between the sports and church he does sound like a traditional mainstream kid. Pointless to ask the reasons he was bullied, because kids don't need reasons to do this. Don't any of you remember highschool? The "In Crowd" kids will always pick someone, and if they can't find a reason they will invent one. Some kids are always singled out. There will always be those whose status is defined by who they can dehumanize.

    Posted by: Will | Apr 14, 2009 9:30:01 PM


  18. No Rami, I am not saying that at all.

    I went through the exact type of bullying that this kid did. Good grades. Active in church. Loving home (don't get me wrong, there was dysfunction).

    What needs to be defeated is the idea that being a "goody-goody" is a bad thing or an un-masculine thing.

    Funny story, when I was in 3rd grade and the teacher paddled me for God knows what (I did like to talk a lot!), there was one guy that pulled me to side and said that he was going to teach me to be "a man."

    He basically served as my body guard for the rest of the year and asked for nothing in return. In any other situation, he probably would have bullied me as well. Was that my first "boyfriend." Who knows?

    Contrarian, yes, that is EXACTLY right. Coming out as gay was only the cherry on top of the sundae, I was already branded as "white" for being a good student, among other things.

    Thing is, had he survived, if he could have well yeilded to peer pressure and became a thug. I have seen it happen to so many otherwise brilliant Af-American kids (esp. boys). I used to be worried about my nephews as far as this was concerned. Thank God that my nephews have a grandmother that scares them more than any of the teen thugs in the streets.

    For myself, starting in middle school, I attended private school and then a magnet school, so I escaped a lot of this. So many kids don't.

    It's very un-PC to talk about. But it needs to be talked about. I am a survivor of the exact same type of bullying.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Apr 14, 2009 9:34:38 PM


  19. His suicide in part, may be due to his perception of possibly being gay and what that means in the phobic society we live in. As the mother said "He thinks, Maybe I'm like this. Maybe I'm not. What do I do?" Society at large is telling him being gay is a bad thing. I just want to know, where are all the psychiatrists/psychologists that have been for years saying that being gay is ok, how we are born, not changable, etc? Where are they? Where are the entire medical and psychological communities during this whole debate going on in our country and the world over gay rights? There have been so many recent biological/scientific/psychological data that backs our cause, yet I only see wingnuts on tv, and ex-gays. Why aren't the legitimate medical communities coming forward and helping to stop these myths that being gay is a choice. And help change the attitudes of society out there so that another child doesn't end up confused and hating themselves to end their life like this. There are so many nurses, doctors, professors who know the facts. Anyone in the medical community reading this, please help us. Please help us to spread the truth and end this debate.

    Posted by: Mr. Avenjer | Apr 14, 2009 9:55:02 PM


  20. Although I wonder how many are coming forward and agree that they should, the mental health and sociological professionals aren't in charge, it's the media. They decide. And they ask people to come on, it's not those professionals that call the network, affiliate, or channel saying please put me on.

    Posted by: satori | Apr 14, 2009 10:53:10 PM


  21. No 11 year-old child should ever need to have to learn how to "kick ass." Period.

    This incredibly tragic story illustrates perfectly why the "Esquire" magazine bit was such an outrage.


    Posted by: Imagine | Apr 14, 2009 11:21:01 PM


  22. Rami : You must be some kind of a nut. All I was asking was...What was it about this kid that would get anybody calling him "gay" as an insult? I think Chitown Kev covers the subject pretty well.

    Posted by: JT | Apr 15, 2009 2:58:05 AM


  23. And when I say a kid should know how to "kick ass", I don't necessarily mean literally (although that's okay too sometimes). One can kick ass figuratively, verbally, by force of personality, etc., in all kinds of ways.

    Posted by: JT | Apr 15, 2009 3:02:40 AM


  24. JT, fuck off. The kid was slightly built and studious, and that school permitted a "Lord of the Flies" gang to terrorize him. The answer is not to encourage more violence in the schools. The answer is for adults to step in and stop it. That's their job.

    Posted by: WP | Apr 15, 2009 3:50:06 AM


  25. This isn't really a gay issue. It is, however, a bullying issue. It wouldn't matter that they called him "gay" or "snitch" or whatever (although it does bring up the whole "gay is bad" thing). The real basic issue here is the school's lack of BALLS to step in and stop this kind of behavior when they see it and know full well it's happening. Laisez faire schools have been turning a bilnd eye to this crap since the 60s. It used to be a so-called right of passage, but with the media's influence (and the resulting gay-baiting) it's now a kill-or-be-killed situation. Until the schools of our country are given the right (and the impetus) to discipline students and hold them accountable again there will be no change to this problem.

    Posted by: johnny | Apr 15, 2009 7:22:19 AM


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