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Yet Another Gay Teen Lost to Bullying Suicide — in Minnesota

Anoka

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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Comments

  1. And yet Fuck Us On The Family thinks that gays are using bullying to "promote the gay agenda".

    The blood of these kids are on their hands.

    Posted by: Helen Heels | Sep 14, 2010 2:47:13 PM


  2. High school. What do they really teach kids? If you're different, you will be shunned and assaulted. If you're gay expect to be spit on or harassed to the point where you take your own life.

    Christians claim another life to save their kids from "gay".

    Posted by: Jonathan | Sep 14, 2010 2:58:32 PM


  3. This "neutrality" policy was pushed on the school by a right-wing group of parents called "PAL" They had to shut down their web site (which reportedly said gays should change and go through ex-gay programs) because of all the justifiably angry email they were getting. That may be the "harassment" that was referred to. The bullies think they're Jesus's sweet lil darlin's and just didn't understand the anger. Don't hold your breath waiting for them to realize they are responsible for these deaths. By the way, this school district is in Michele Bachman's congressional district.

    Posted by: Jim | Sep 14, 2010 3:04:03 PM


  4. My sympathies to the family and friends. I grew up and graduated in that school district. It seems things have not changed much in the last 30 years.

    Not that long ago Anoka High School had issues with violence against African American and other students of color.

    Remember; this is the in the hellish and hateful heart of Michele Bachmann's congressional district.

    Posted by: eco-freak | Sep 14, 2010 3:33:54 PM


  5. Awful. My condolences to the family. I wouldn't care if the faculty were confused about the policies--the result is that they failed to protect the student, and that's all that matters. If it were my...obligation...I'd have no recourse but to seek vengeance on the faculty and administration.

    Posted by: TANK | Sep 14, 2010 3:48:48 PM


  6. If you have a constructive comment and are able to encourage the school district to implement changes in an effort to help prevent further suicide and create discussion about GLBT issues please contact:

    Mr. Dennis Carlson, Superintendent, Anoka-Hennepin School District
    763-506-1001
    [email protected]

    Posted by: Fred | Sep 14, 2010 4:03:05 PM


  7. Gregg Steinhafel, CEO of Target: By donating money to MN Forward and the money going to Tom Emmer's campaign, you are perpetuating the ideas that make this story heartbreaking. Is that really why you and your wife donated the limit to the PAC? Do you really want to look the other way when a gay child commits suicide because Emmer is on the side of big business? Sir, you are despicable! I will not shop at Target AGAIN!

    Posted by: mad1026 | Sep 14, 2010 4:20:36 PM


  8. It makes sad sense that the Anoka-Hennepin school district mostly overlaps with Michele Bachmann's congressional district. Gives you a sense of the kind of people these kids are dealing with.

    Posted by: Matt | Sep 14, 2010 4:59:25 PM


  9. Tammy, I am so sorry for your loss. Justin's death is our loss too -- we are all the poorer when any child (or adult for that matter) feels driven out and away by others' actions or words.

    Posted by: Adam | Sep 14, 2010 5:00:29 PM


  10. I was in high school in the 1970s. We had two obviously gay guys in our school (I hadn't figured out my own story yet) and NOBODY harassed them. Sure, they'd get looks or people would talk, but that was about it. And this was a country school in Indiana.

    I think this kind of bullying has really ramped up due to many factors: the religious right, numbness to violence, un-real gay clichés on TV, wrong-headed teaching by parents that gays are pedophiles and on and on.

    However, the biggest factor of all is the passive approval given by adults when they stand by and do nothing. This gives bullies the "green light" every time and makes them feel that they are "right" in their harrassments. Other students feel helpless to do anything about it due to that very same passive approval or peer disapproval.

    The situation is really out of control. I can't imagine trying to figure out my sexuality in an environment as horrible as this. No wonder they feel worthless and with so few positive gay role models shown in the media, it's only going to get worse.

    When a few gay teens get together and start hitting back in a big way, gays will be demonized even more. But I can't think of any other way to halt this crap. It's time for the tide to turn.

    Posted by: johnny | Sep 14, 2010 5:09:18 PM


  11. You stay neutral means stay silent. The school district is as bad as the bullies who are left to terrorize these kids. I hope the mother sues the hell out of this school district and they realize they are not trying to remain neutral, just catering to a bigot minded school district.

    ONE KID IS TOO MUCH!

    Posted by: Sean | Sep 14, 2010 5:14:37 PM


  12. I encourage you all to write the Superintendent of the school district, all the Assistant Superintendents, the Student Services Dr and the woman in charge of physical and mental wellness at the following email addresses:

    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected],
    [email protected]

    Posted by: Sean | Sep 14, 2010 5:48:59 PM


  13. I went to the Anoka-Hennepin schools all through my years as a student. This doesn't surprise me at all. I remember teachers standing by and snickering while I was bullied like crazy in 9th grade for being gay. None of this surprises me.

    Posted by: AJ | Sep 14, 2010 7:45:10 PM


  14. Like the boy in Indiana, there are many reasons people young and old commit suicide. I think by far most, regardless of stuff like school bullying, commit suicide for deeply personal reasons, especially stuff like relationship break ups, hurt feelings, etc.,

    This boy like the boy in Indiana had friends and a social life so he wasn't really isolated. I suspect there were things going on in this boys life and the boy in Indiana aside from bullying that really sent them over the edge. I'm developing the feeling that too many people are clinging to the a single issue, school bullying, but not acknowledging or ignoring other equally difficult issues all people, young and old, must deal with, and that some can't.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 14, 2010 7:53:26 PM


  15. Wonder what the punishment is for neutral teachers and administrators in Iran?

    99 lashes? Stoning?

    Neutral teachers are scum. Next time I see a woman being harassed on the street I'll ask first if she's a teacher, then leave her alone.

    Fuck em all.

    Posted by: MarkDC | Sep 14, 2010 8:37:58 PM


  16. Wonder what the punishment is for neutral teachers and administrators in Iran?

    99 lashes? Stoning?

    Neutral teachers are scum. Next time I see a woman being harassed on the street I'll ask first if she's a teacher, then leave her alone.

    Fuck em all.

    Posted by: MarkDC | Sep 14, 2010 8:38:58 PM


  17. Someone needs to confront Focus on the Family and their "true tolerance" BS bullying strategy and ask them how they would prevent this.

    I'm not sure why the media isn't forcing groups like that to end their hate when we are faced with real lives ending because of poor bullying policies and the culture of hate.

    Posted by: Joe | Sep 14, 2010 8:47:08 PM


  18. Joe,

    In this case don't ignore other things going on in this boys life. I seriously doubt he killed himself over bullying...or exclusively bullying. I'm sure there's more to this story.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 14, 2010 9:34:25 PM


  19. I know for myself the greatest difficulty coming out or accepting myself was not external anti-gay stuff, but dealing with certain aspects of the dominant gay sub-culture and gay ghettoization (word?) especially intellectually. The idea among many in the dominant gay sub-culture that you must stereotypically like certain things, act a certain way, believe certain things, or else you're a self-hating mean spirited fag who'll be ostracized by the gay in-crowd has always bothered me more than outside homophobia.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 14, 2010 9:41:07 PM


  20. where's HRC when needed?

    Posted by: von lmo | Sep 14, 2010 9:53:18 PM


  21. @Ratbastard, that was a problem for me too. However, part of those stereotypes come to dominate gay culture, I think, because of the resistance of straight culture to accept us. I think among some gays there is a way that makes people hype up those aspects to contrast with straight male culture. This is getting a bit confusing but what I'm saying is that these issues are interrelated.

    And while I don't want to ignore other things going on in his life, the gay bullying and the culture of hate and not caring about it that others at the school mentioned could have pushed him just over the breaking point. It may not be the only thing that contributed to him ending his life, but it is one of them.

    Posted by: Joe | Sep 15, 2010 12:45:45 AM


  22. The "staying neutral" policy essentially boils down to this: These people believe homosexuality is wrong. Therefore, terrorizing a gay child -- or even one who "seems" gay -- is justifiable. How fucking sick is that?

    Posted by: Adam Sank | Sep 15, 2010 11:48:58 AM


  23. Absolutely heart breaking.

    Posted by: Paul Leary | Sep 15, 2010 8:54:50 PM


  24. Clueless, out-of-touch, on-the-phone, airhead Tammy strikes again. Breeders need to have a competency test before producing offspring!

    Posted by: wimsy | Sep 15, 2010 9:24:29 PM


  25. He wasn't "lost to bullying suicide"; he killed himself. We shouldn't blame suicide on anyone but the person so selfish as to kill him/herself & inflict such pain on the survivors. The reasons why don't matter. The fact is that he committed self-murder. That is that.

    Posted by: Tennessee Budd | Sep 16, 2010 8:52:18 AM


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