Bullying | Education | Iowa | News

Bullying Pushes Gay Iowa Teen Kenneth Weishuhn to Suicide: VIDEO


Kenneth Weishuhn, a freshman high school student in Paullina, Iowa took his life on Saturday a month after being rejected by friends after coming out of the closet at school, KTIV reports:

"People that were originally his friends, they kind of turned on him," said his sister Kayla Weishuhn. Teasing started in school, according Kayla, a sophomore.  She says it was the boys in her class, that bullied her brother over his sexuality. "A lot of people, they either joined in or they were too scared to say anything," she said.

She says they took their teases online, to websites like Facebook, creating a hate group against gays and adding Kenneth's friends as members.  However, it was only the beginning, family say he started receiving death threats from South O'Brien students on his phone.

"When I'd question him about the phone calls, like he just blew it off, so I just thought everything was ok," said his mother.

The Sioux City Journal adds:

"South O'Brien schools Superintendent Dan Moore would not elaborate about the case or talk about whether bullying played a role. "We have heard the allegations," he said. "We don't know for sure why Kenneth did this." Grief counselors were at the school Monday to help students,  Moore said. He said they're taking the incident seriously. "Any time a students does something like this, it's a tragic loss and our whole community hurts because of it," said Moore, who called Kenneth Weishuhn "a good kid."

Watch KTIV's report on Kenneth's death, and a memorial video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Video may take some time to load...

A memorial made by friends and family:

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  1. Just telling kids things will get better later is not cutting it. They need to be prepared for the backlash and hatred that will indeed be directed their way. Trying to educate the schools is obviously not working either, the bullies are still ruling the roost. There has to be a way to help kids learn coping mechanisms before they come out and to realize what is to come.

    Posted by: happyday | Apr 17, 2012 7:50:32 AM

  2. I agree with happyday. It needs to get better now, not later.

    Posted by: Sean Mcfly | Apr 17, 2012 7:55:46 AM

  3. Bullying by kids won't stop until bullying by adults stops. Between anti-gay politicians proposing laws that discriminate and anti-gay churches that continue to preach hate, bullying is the behavior that kids see adults displaying every day. When kids go to church on Sunday and hear the preacher spewing hatred towards gays how are they supposed to act?

    Posted by: Joseph | Apr 17, 2012 8:08:13 AM

  4. This is why there is a need for Gay/Straight Alliances in small cities and rural America. This hate is fuled by churches and politicians who use the bible as a weapon.

    Posted by: jerry Pritikin | Apr 17, 2012 8:23:07 AM

  5. Wanna make the abuse stop?...stick a screwdriver into side of your aggressor's neck! Puerto Rican style, baby!!

    Posted by: Robert | Apr 17, 2012 8:35:56 AM

  6. Nobody kills themselves in a vaccuumm. It's very dangerous to say he was bullied, therefore he killed himself. It makes these poor, depressed kids into martyrs to a cause that adults have no way to do anything about. It sends the wrong message. There will always be depressed people offing themselves. Maybe the schools need to be educated on suicide prevention.

    Posted by: AJ | Apr 17, 2012 8:56:52 AM

  7. @HappyDay, Sean McFly, Joseph, & Jerry Pritikin: you are correct.

    @Robert: Kenneth Weishuhn would have needed an 18 wheeler
    full of screwdrivers... pointless & impossible.

    This morning, I lit a candle for Kenneth, hoping his heart can rest.

    Posted by: Marcito | Apr 17, 2012 9:00:19 AM

  8. another trophy for the christians.

    Posted by: DannyEastVillage | Apr 17, 2012 9:02:26 AM

  9. The hate groups, and the hate spewing politicians and preachers are vile, but they are a small minority, and growing smaller. They are not the only problem. In fact, some of them are so ridiculous that they have the opposite effect. Not too many people are looking to be associated with the Westerboro Baptist Church.

    The bigger problem is the fact that others stand by and let it happen.

    Bullying incidents have more layers of guilt than just the one caused by the bully who does the deed or makes the comment. The next layer might consist of his friends who laugh about it, and wait for more.

    But how can just a few people have so much power? That's thanks to the biggest layer. The people who don't join in, and don't laugh, but don't say or do anything to stop it.

    Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel,has said, "The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference." Regardless of how the attitudes towards any person or group, tormentors would learn to keep their mouths shut if they found themselves outcasts for their offensive speech and actions.

    Pull the purse strings on preachers and politicians that spew the anti-gay rhetoric--and let them know that's why you're withdrawing support. It's amazing how fast people lose the courage of their "convictions" when airing these views comes at a cost to them. Bullies are only given power by an audience, even a non-participatory one. Take it away, and they'll melt as fast as the Wicked Witch of the West when hit with a bucket of water.

    Posted by: Kathleen O'Neill | Apr 17, 2012 9:02:51 AM

  10. I agree with all posted comments, except Robert.
    Kenneth Weishuhn would have needed an 18 wheeler
    full of screwdrivers.

    pointless & impossible.

    Posted by: Marcito | Apr 17, 2012 9:18:39 AM

  11. Robert needs to go back to Puerto Roco. Period.

    The rest have great and useful comments. I was praying for the obliteration of Paullina, the town, by tornado, not helpful either. RIP young man, know that your life is now beginning to make a difference much needed among the church animals who have likely forced your departure.

    Posted by: uffda | Apr 17, 2012 9:19:00 AM

  12. I'm so sick of reading these stories that I'm starting to agree with Robert. If it's going to end in violence, then I would rather the bullies be on the receiving end. I probably won't feel this way tomorrow, but right now I wish I was reading a story about Kenneth being in custody instead of Kenneth being dead.

    Posted by: antb | Apr 17, 2012 9:26:50 AM

  13. The school board "does not know" why this happened? Maybe a lawsuit will refresh their memories.

    Until LGBTQ citizens and straight supporters, young and old, come out and make a stand and speak out against this INSTITUTIONALIZED homophobia in these rural, small-town minded areas, nothing will change, LGBTQ teens and straight teens who are assumed as gay, will continue to be bullied, beaten and commit suicide. The gay community at large, we have to do better in these communities. We have to do our part to reach out to the kids in these areas, because they feel as if they don't have anything or anyone to support them and rely on. No-one LGBTQ to relate to. No straight friends who can understand them and put the bullies in check. We're going to have to force change in these backward areas. All of us, have to stand up and make a difference.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 17, 2012 9:28:47 AM

  14. There needs to be ONE central resource for gay kids coming out, whether they come out openly or just acknowledge it to themselves, someplace that's so fixed in the public mind that contacting them is reflexive. And instead of just offering hope for a projected better future it needs to offer tools and resources for the present.

    I don't fault the It Gets Better campaign. It is what it is but it's clearly not enough.

    Posted by: Caliban | Apr 17, 2012 9:29:42 AM

  15. We need to start a campaign telling kids to call 911 when bullied. If teachers and other students won't step in, these kids need to know they can call the police. That is what we would tell them if they were attacked in a mall or on the street or at home, why not at school? They have rights, they are not invisible or no longer citizens when they step on school property. They are forced, by law, to go to school every day. Forced to offer themselves, day after day, as a victim to violence and psychological torture of other teens.

    Let the police start responding to calls all across the country on a daily basis and someone will do something. Kids need to know they have the right to be safe, not just from strangers, but from other kids at school. They all have cell phones now. Parents should be educated and educating their kids to use them to call the police. School or not.

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | Apr 17, 2012 9:47:14 AM

  16. Sad, sad story. But we don't know what else was going on in his life and head. Suicide is an intensely personal thing.

    Here's a bottom line: Kenneth lacked effective coping strategies and support network. If you have little or no reliable support network DO NOT 'come out' at least until after H.S. It's almost impossible to create a one-on-one support network across rural America, the country is too large, and resources too scarce. This is stressful but will work for those who can 'pass'. For effete boys or masculine girls, I don't know what to say. But I knew effete boys who weren't gay, so this is not necessarily a gay thing exclusively.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 17, 2012 9:48:57 AM

  17. A few of you are saying that because of this tragic death that all of our efforts have failed— this is NOT true.

    Posted by: Eric | Apr 17, 2012 10:06:10 AM

  18. Ummmm, why aren't my comments being posted?

    Posted by: Robert | Apr 17, 2012 10:43:56 AM

  19. @ROBERT:

    Cuz you're deportation papers have just been filed.

    Posted by: ROBERTBAD | Apr 17, 2012 11:32:50 AM

  20. And one of the problems in High School seems to be that there are not enough straights with courage and integrity to stand against the bullies.
    If one guy is 'effete', then there should be sufficient straights or gays with the balls to protect guys like that......

    Where are all the brave ones ?
    Where are all the courageous ones ?
    Are all straights terrified out of their wits to stand up for other ? .....straights too terrified of being thought fags ?
    Everyone terrified about Facebook ?
    Who gives a $hit about Facebook......Get rid of Facebook.

    Yes, I blame the cowards of the High Schools......the straights, the jocks with no balls,the hangers-on, all terrified to stand up for what they know is right.

    What a testimony to great teaching.....ha ha ha.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Apr 17, 2012 11:39:12 AM

  21. ROBERTBAD - what you said! LOL hard.

    Posted by: uffda | Apr 17, 2012 11:39:37 AM

  22. Say what you want, you ignorant racists, but I have never, nor will ever be bullied. And if ever my life is threatened, you can be damn sure that I won't go to my grave without taking someone with me. Now...continue with your racist remarks.

    Posted by: Robert | Apr 17, 2012 11:45:52 AM

  23. Puerto Ricans are American citizens. You can't 'deport' someone to P.R., A U.S. Commonwealth/territory.

    An extreme example, but he's got a point. People need to learn how to fight if necessary, and fight dirty.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 17, 2012 11:54:36 AM

  24. We need to face the fact that school as a young adult experience is not "Saved By The Bell" or "Degrassi." Kids are not likely to do the right thing by their peers, and there really is no shame in being a vicious, sneering prick.

    It's become kiddie jail -- and just like in prison, gays are among the most vulnerable members of the population, with no gang at their back to keep them safe from the horrors of the general population.

    Posted by: Gry | Apr 17, 2012 12:07:23 PM

  25. Thanks RATBASTARD. I'm not sure how this became an issue of my heritage. I was simply stating that the boy should not have given up so easily. Do you guys (especially you racist) not remember Stonewall? Start fighting back and stop crying "victim"...at any cost.

    Posted by: Robert | Apr 17, 2012 12:08:49 PM

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