Anti-Gay Bullying Blamed in Suicide of Pennsylvania Teen

Anti-gay bullying is being blamed for the suicide of 14-year-old Brandon Bitner of Middleburg, Pennsylvania on Friday. Bitner walked 13 miles before throwing himself in front of a truck, the Daily Item reports:

Bitner Freshman Brandon Bitner, 14, of Mount Pleasant Mills, ran in front of the truck at 3 a.m. near Liverpool, according to state police at Newport. The boy’s family discovered him missing at 3:45 a.m., and contacted police.

The road was closed for about three hours after the crash.

There seems to be little doubt in the students’ minds why Bitner did what he did. “It was because of bullying,” friend Takara Jo Folk wrote in a letter to The Daily Item. “It was not about race, or gender, but they bullied him for his sexual preferences and the way he dressed. Which,” she said, “they wrongly accused him of.”

His death came just days after an anti-bullying assembly at the high school, which, according to district Superintendent Wesley Knapp, was not held in response to any specific problems at the school, but because it is an issue Principal Cynthia Hutchinson has always felt strongly about. After the assembly, according to student Briana Boyer in another letter to The Daily Item, “No one took it seriously, and joked around about it.”

Former Midd-West student Erin Barnett sent a letter as well, blaming the school, saying that when students report bullying, “Nothing is done.”

Bitner was reportedly a talented musician. The school has provided a counseling center for students.


  1. K in VA says

    I fear we’ll continue to read about tragedies like this as long as even the people who know and love/like gay kids continue to use the phrase “sexual preference.”

    As long as people think being gay is a preference (as in: “I’d prefer apple pie, but pecan pie will be ok”), they’ll never understand what equality is all about. If you think it’s a “preference,” you think we can change if we try (“c’mon, try it, pecan pie is delicious”).

    We still need to spend a hell of a lot more time and energy educating the public, and I guess we still need to work harder on educating those nearest and dearest to us.

  2. says

    I’m so sorry for Brandon and his family…..

    How on earth can we wake up to this cancer of bullying in our society ?
    Why is each preacher not railing against such venom from their pulpits ?
    Where are the teachers watching every move and listening for every discriminatory word ?
    Or is the truth that half or more of the teachers and preachers are imbued with the same discriminatory instincts ?

  3. John Fisher says

    Millions of children worldwide are bullied every day
    This book may help
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    “Trust Me” by John Fisher

    My story is a simple tale about a 49 year old man who goes over to his friend’s house and touched his latest
    invention and suddenly finds himself in the year 1969. Invisible to everyone around him except for one person.
    His 11 year old self. He remembers how shy and bullied he was as a child and convinces his younger self to let him navigate him though his rough times. Teaching how to dress, talk and walk. Greatly Improving his relationship with his mother and father.  Then it on to his 4th grade mean teacher. Making small leaps through time, he’s in middle school completely rocking the school with his knowledge of sex, dealing in a positive way with four bullies. PE coaches and their paddles.  In high school, he advises his younger self how to connect with his first crush. Saves his girlfriend and other girls from an evil boy. Though out my book, my character grow more confident and helps more of his classmates.
       Several opportunities to laugh and cry. My character returns to a world much nicer and more just

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  4. Frederick says

    There MUST be more stringent consequences (i.e. immediate expulsion from school, legal charges, possible arrest-depending upon the severity of the bullying)for bullies, especially as it pertains to LGBT students. Please contact your congress person and demand that the federal Safe Schools Improvement Act be passed by Congress A.S.A.P. Once bullies know they’ll be held legally and criminally accountable, a significant number of bullying incidents against LGBT students will almost certainly decrease– just as nationally, bullying incidents due to a student’s race or ethnicity have decreased because of the possibility of being charged with a hate crime…

  5. Joel says

    Agreed, Frederick. Every time I read about this, I ask “where were the adults'”?

    In their office filling out forms, I guess. Or watching bulling with a smile.

  6. Randy says

    I live near where this tragedy happened. Please visit to read more. He left a letter stating that a humiliating event had taken place which was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He also left audio recordings for his friends encouraging them to be strong and live their dream. His friends and family are trying to get his story to the mainstream media but have been unsucessful. On Saturday I drove the road that he walked to where he ended his life. This is rural PA, Amish country.

  7. says

    We need to be able to outlaw ANTI-science/NON-science, but I’m afraid we cannot in America since “religious freedom” includes establishing as “fact” ANTI-science/NON-science in schools and government. Like “choosing” and sexual preference. BTW – I prefer LOVE-orientation over SEXUAL-orientation; sexual activity is only ONE way I express romantic love for my partner. My VERY FIRST same-sex “crushes” began in my heart, not in my penis, although later on my wee did catch up.

    We need scientists and educators to TELL THE TRUTH.

    My heart goes out to Brandon and all who loved him.

  8. says

    The bullying that comes from kids and classmates is bad enough, but it’s the indirect (or direct) “bullying” that comes from the parents and family members through homophobic slurs that pushes these kids to kill themselves. All homophobia, racism and hate of ANY kind is LEARNED from the parents. People are not born with hate – it is learned. The parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents are the ones to blame for all of these senseless deaths. People need to wake the f*ck up !

  9. millsapian87 says

    Why is each preacher not railing against such venom from their pulpits ?

    The preachers are ENCOURAGING bullying, not railing against it. Indeed, they oppose anti-bullying legislation and policies because that would prevent them from ranting about the sin of homosex. Do NOT look to “Christians” for a resolution to this problem.

    See for example.

  10. Bill says

    What nobody is saying, but someone needs to, is that this does not truly bother heterosexuals one little bit.

    Most of them would prefer that their gay kids were never even born.

    Society does not care at all that gay kids are killing themselves en masse.

    For it is the very behavior of heterosexuals and their treatment of gay kids that is causing the suicides.

  11. dj says

    many different kinds of people commit suicide all the time, but when there’s a string of homosexual suicides it is all of a sudden society’s fault. these kids should speak out, stand up for themselves, do something other than kill themselves. what makes this story worse is that he decided to involve an innocent bystander, that tractor trailer driver will now live with that guilt for the rest of their life, that also isn’t fair now is it?

  12. TampaZeke says

    Well I’m certainly glad that Takara made it perfectly clear that this kid wasn’t guilty of what he was being “wrongly ACCUSED” of. I mean, if had actually been the gay person he was accused of being, that would have been worse than being bullied or committing suicide or ANYTHING.

    Ironically, it’s people like Takara, in their clueless way, that make things so much worse for gay people.

  13. says

    I feel for the family. This is a senseless tragedy that should have been prevented. It doesn’t matter how you feel about homosexuality, all people deserve the same respect. I hope those who bullied him are now living to regret their actions.

  14. Lael says

    DJ – It’s insensitive crap like yours that makes it harder for gay kids. “Speak up” “Stand up for yourself”. If they knew how to do it, they would. If they thought anyone would actually listen and help (adults in authority) they would. Parents think their kids blow things out of proportion and say EXACTLY what you did.

    So, yes, you dipshit, it is, in fact, on society for allowing the shit to happen as far as bullying. Schools don’t want to offend fundy parents, so they direct their teachers to stay neutral and don’t take sides. Parents think their kids will be safe while in the custody of schools. Other people will just walk by, because it isn’t their problem. So, that is society.

    And yes, this applies to all bullying. Many states have laws about it that aren’t enforced. Most that do, don’t include sexual orientation or gender identity. That might trample of fundy rights to persecute kids.

    Finally, fuck off DJ. Blaming the victim is never acceptable. Ever. For any reason. Yes, you had a valid point about the driver… then you shat on it. You are part of that society that is deserving of blame. Your attitude is repugnant and infuriating. Can you tell?

  15. Randy says

    Where is the accountability? Some suicides aren’t preventable. But suicide caused by school bullying is 100% preventable. Someone MUST lose their job and their teaching credentials when this happens.

  16. Chad Thompson says

    I thought these anti-bullying assemblies were supposed to the solution to the gay suicide problem, so why did Brandon kill himself right after one of them took place in his school?

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