Bullying | Gay Youth | Minnesota | News

Yet Another Gay Teen Lost to Bullying Suicide — in Minnesota


WCCO reports on the tragic death of Justin Aaberg, which happened in July:

"Justin Aaberg came out as gay when he was 13 and, as his mom found out only after he hanged himself, suffered tremendously inside. 'I actually thought he had the perfect life. I thought out of anybody I knew that he had the perfect life,' said Justin Aaberg's mother, Tammy Aaberg. 'But I guess he didn't think so.' In the weeks since she found her son dead in his room on July 9, Tammy Aaberg has heard from many of her son's friends at Anoka High School. They told her Justin Aaberg had been bullied and had recently broken up with his boyfriend. Those same students also opened up about their own experiences, telling her they feel harassed and unsafe as gay and lesbian students. 'These kids, they just hate themselves. They literally feel like they want to die. So many kids are telling me this,' said Tammy Aaberg, fighting tears."

Watch the heartbreaking video HERE.

There were five suicides in the Anoka-Hennepin District last year, and a lesbian student there as well as a teacher believe at least three were attributable to anti-gay bullying.

The school district asks teachers to "remain neutral" on the bullying because of some conservative dipshits in the district who apparently don't want "gay" being addressed at school:

"...name-calling and bullying happen often in the district because teachers and students don't stand up to it. The teachers said that's partly because other teachers are scared and confused about how to interpret the curriculum policy.  The Anoka-Hennepin School District said the curriculum policy and bullying are two entirely separate issues. 'It's very difficult. We have a community that has widely varying opinions, and so to respect all families, as the policy says, we ask teachers to remain neutral,' said District Spokeswoman Mary Olson."

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  1. I wish the GLNH (Gay and Lesbian National Hotline) was available for these children, resources offered in schools so they could reach out. :((((

    Posted by: UGH | Sep 14, 2010 12:46:33 PM

  2. "...we ask teachers to remain neutral"

    In other words: Pretend it doesn't exist.

    When teachers look the other way, they're accomplices.

    Posted by: KK | Sep 14, 2010 12:52:39 PM

  3. I'm actually sick to my stomach reading this. I'm constantly baffled around how on earth any adult -- especially a parent-- is EVER okay with a child being bullied -- regardless of what they're being bullied for?

    Posted by: JauntyJohn | Sep 14, 2010 12:57:45 PM

  4. And the candidate for governor that Target supports says anti-bullying legislation is not needed. But who cares about that because he is "pro-business".

    Still waiting until Target does something to correct this error, until then I continue to boycott them.

    Posted by: PDX_Guy | Sep 14, 2010 12:58:50 PM

  5. I believe we need some attorneys (God knows we have a surplus) to take up these individual cases and pursue the school districts for not providing a safe learning environment. The only thing that is going to get school districts to act appropriately is if they are stuck with legal fees and judgments -- looks bad for future promotions; if individuals can be held accountable even better.

    I wonder how many of these cases are brought to court to hold the grossly negligent accountable?

    Posted by: Fahd | Sep 14, 2010 1:00:08 PM

  6. this diarist on daily kos summed it up in a way that i just can't replicate. please read it:


    Posted by: alguien | Sep 14, 2010 1:02:02 PM

  7. It is articles like this that make me think: homeschool is best.

    You love nothing in this world, not your SO, not your parents, not yourself like you love your child and to lose them to sorrow...that has to be the worst pain anyone can fill. They are your baby.


    I cannot even imagine. That poor child. :(

    Posted by: Rin | Sep 14, 2010 1:04:52 PM

  8. This is so Heartwrenching. I am sure some of us can recall that Pain that would not go away, that isolation. Unfortunately we still live in a Culture that Institutionalizes harassing behavior. Like bulling has become a Virtue. Sad,sad,sad

    Posted by: Jerry | Sep 14, 2010 1:08:56 PM

  9. I don't think parents even realize how much more invasive bullying is today. It doesn't stop at school, its on the web, its proliferated like a virus. These poor children.

    When I was in school the feminine gay boys were harassed and bullied by all the jocks. I remember one day they pushed this kid Dean so hard that he fell forward and onto his books so that he was bleeding because his gums got cut. I slapped this kid (who will be nameless because he ended up in the Olympics) over it. No one supported me or got angry, too. In fact...a lot of people's response was that they weren't going to stop so why make it worse by fighting with the guy.

    I think about that argument--don't make it worse. The gay kid even told me not to help him anymore because it would just make the bullying worse if a girl had to defend him.

    I think the other kids don't always know what to do in this situation.

    Posted by: Rin | Sep 14, 2010 1:14:08 PM

  10. The facts show the great danger facing LGBT youth. A 2009 study, "Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes" by San Francisco State University, shows that adolescents rejected by their families for being LGBT were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide. And for every completed suicide by a young person, it is estimated that 100 to 200 attempts are made (2003 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey).

    The best way to stop this is for our legal organizations to step in and aid GLBT youth by launching financially crippling lawsuits against the bigots, whether they're schools, parents, politicians or cult 'reeducation' camps. The Southern Poverty Law Center used that strategy to financially break the KKK in the late 80s and 90s. Lambda Legal, the NCLR and the ACLU should step up to defend our youth.

    Posted by: Bill Perdue | Sep 14, 2010 1:15:02 PM

  11. Those people have blood on their hands. SILENCE=DEATH

    Posted by: gaylib | Sep 14, 2010 1:16:36 PM

  12. Congratulations Christians: you got another one. And I'm not just talking about the murderers who harass the schools into "neutrality", I'm talking about the hypocrites who sit silently in their pews saying nothing while others spew their bile.

    Posted by: niles | Sep 14, 2010 1:17:37 PM

  13. Here is the correct News report url.

    Posted by: Seth | Sep 14, 2010 1:19:06 PM

  14. As a parent I cannot imaging the hell this poor mother is going through. It just sickens me that because of some vocal religious right people there is no rational, logical, social science based information passed on to teenagers who might be struggling with sexuality. When I was a teen I was deeply in denial and spent 5 years trying to "pray the gay away". Also perhaps there needs to be a media campaign to connect caring parents with resources to help teens feel comfortable coming out to them.

    Posted by: Tom in long beach | Sep 14, 2010 1:20:06 PM

  15. It's worse - these so-called teachers should be sent to remedial math until they learn that Neutral = Dead students.

    Posted by: Hue-Man | Sep 14, 2010 1:22:09 PM

  16. other comments are dead-right.

    1) the District Spokeswoman admitted to negligence by policy on the part of the School District. "We ask teachers to remain neutral." In the role of a care-taker, remaining neutral in an environment of harassment, bullying or abuse is negligence. Some LGBTQ+ Lawyer/organization needs to ensure that this School District is sued into bankruptcy. Only by showing the *costs* to them associated with such negligence will other negligent accomplices to murder-through-harassment learn that they must change their behavior to protect their OWN interests. They've demonstrated and stated they aren't going to do so because it is their duty.

    2) Perhaps unwittingly, Target in supporting the anti-gay candidate it has, out of self-interest, decided that they are going to support another accomplice of this murder. They need to be educated on all of the ramifications of that decision.

    I think it might be a fine idea to print out this kid's photo and put it on placards stating something like "find out how Target helped me die" and post them at and around your local Target.

    Sorry if that sounds inflammatory and dramatic, I'm just sick of watching young people die because some people believe that a book tells them they aren't worth saving or protecting.

    Posted by: Dego | Sep 14, 2010 1:24:38 PM

  17. I grew up in an Air Force family, we of course moved a lot, ALWAYS in the middle of the school year. I *dreaded* starting school because I stood out, I was "the new kid". One of those moves, I was 14 and this dude just made it his life's mission to torment me.

    One day in art class, the guy threw a piece of hard clay at me, it hit me in the temple and it really hurt. I snapped: I walked over, pushed him against the wall and started to strangle him. Nobody did anything, and I still have nightmares (almost 40 years later!) from the image of his face going from smirking > absolute terror, because he knew I was going to kill him and he'd underestimated how strong I was.

    Finally the teacher pulled me off of him. She was in hysterics, she almost had a murder in her class! This was 1974, it wasn't common yet. :-( I would have killed him too if she or someone else hadn't intervened.

    I think the only people lower than bullies are people who prey on children.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Sep 14, 2010 1:36:27 PM

  18. Just checked the school district's website. Maybe they've finally recognized the problem because it explicitly states that any sexual harrassment must be reported and dealt with.

    Check out this link:


    Posted by: Continuum | Sep 14, 2010 1:40:28 PM

  19. My child goes to a religious school that has a zero tolerance policy on bullying. I asked the principle, a Christian, how he would feel if a gay kid was picked on and he said to me: same as any other kid. The bullies would be kicked out.

    I think sometimes it has to do with controllable size. Some of these public schools are just too big for their own good.

    Posted by: Rin | Sep 14, 2010 1:43:51 PM

  20. RIN, what does your child's religious school tell him about gay people? About you? About gay families?

    Posted by: Jacob | Sep 14, 2010 2:10:58 PM

  21. The district superintendent, with a straight face says that teachers have to remain neutral in these cases because they have to take the feelings and opinions of the bullies and their parents into account.

    What utter nonsense. How infuriatingly, outrageously offensive is that?

    And to the person about who claims that they've changed their policy, listen to the video. They are saying exactly what your link says but are saying that policy and bullying are two separate things and they have no intention of changing their, "just stay neutral on gay bullying so as not to offend anti-gay Christians" policy. They haven't, and don't intend to change their policy.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Sep 14, 2010 2:20:46 PM

  22. about = above

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Sep 14, 2010 2:21:36 PM

  23. the district wants a hands off policy so they are as guilty or more so than the bullies. they should be held accountable for the end results a students death. the school took the side of the bigots. apparently the canidate for governor isn't the only problem in wisc. if target wants to support a man who thinks this is ok to hell with target.

    Posted by: walter | Sep 14, 2010 2:29:20 PM

  24. There is ample legal precedence. If the school knew he was being bullied and they did nothing to protect him, they are may be held liable.

    Posted by: rayrayj | Sep 14, 2010 2:41:10 PM

  25. The news host made an odd claim at the very end of that segment. She said that parents who support the existing curriculum were scared to go on camera because they have been harassed !?!?!? That's the oddest claim. Am I misunderstanding what she meant to say?

    Posted by: Shawn | Sep 14, 2010 2:45:41 PM

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