Bullying | Michigan | News

Bullied Gay Michigan Teen Commits Suicide

Josh Pacheco, a high school junior from Fenton, Michigan, committed suicide on November 27. His parents, Lynnette and Michael Capeheart, believe anti-gay bullying is to blame MLive reports:

PachecoHe told his mother he was gay just two months ago, but Capehart said she wasn't surprised and she said it made no difference to her. She loved her son just the same...

...Lynnette and stepfather Michael Capehart said they didn't know until recently that Pacheco was bullied.

Capehart said her first indication that there was a problem came after the homecoming dance on Oct. 6. She was out of town, so she called to see how the dance was. It was the only one he attended this fall.  Pacheco was upset and crying, but wouldn’t tell her why, Capehart said.

After his death, she found out from students that her son had been pushed into lockers and teased at school. It wasn’t surprising that he didn’t tell many people about it, Lynnette Capehart said, because Pacheco never wanted to make anyone else upset.

Pacheco's depression worsened and his parents made an appointment for him to see a counselor, but it was apparently too late:

Around lunch time on Nov. 27, Michael Capehart saw Josh's Facebook status, quoting a line from Bilbo Baggins, a character in the "Lord of the Rings" movies: "I regret to announce that this is the end. I'm going now, I bid you all a very fond farewell. Goodbye."

It immediately worried Michael Capehart. Pacheco was home sick that day, so Capehart called his neighbor to check on Pacheco. He was found unresponsive in his truck, which had been running in the closed-up garage.

He left a note in the truck: "I'm sorry I wasn't able to be strong enough."

Pacheco's parents heard more tales of bullying after his death, but school officials say none was ever reported. School officials have accelerated plans for an anti-bullying hotline.

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  1. Disgusted American, I lived in Michigan up until 2006; I do not need to look up anything. The US still has DOMA and has yet to pass ENDA. Does that mean it is a hate country and a plague of bigotry, or that there are competing forces of pro-equality and anti-equality?

    It's called progress, and it certainly isn't advanced by ignorant people attempting to turn a tragedy into an insulting indictment against the entire population of a state.

    Posted by: OddBet | Dec 5, 2012 4:18:03 PM

  2. oddbet, yes and no. let's be real - the michigan GOP have stood in the way of anti-gay bullying ordinances.

    they're the reason michigan's anti-bullying policies explicitly allow kids to bully gay classmates as long as they have a religious reason.

    its' not the entire populatoin, of course. just the entire GOP-voting part.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 5, 2012 4:22:04 PM

  3. I'm sick and tired of this.

    Posted by: Paul Leary | Dec 5, 2012 4:22:34 PM

  4. "but none was ever reported."

    Hmmm.... maybe because many of these schools don't... you know... create an atmosphere conducive to reporting them!

    Back when I went to school, it was the victims who got in trouble or were singled out. I remember being bullied during a study period in the 8th grade by 3 other students, harassing me all period, and suddenly the teacher yelled at me -- when i was clearly the one being bullied -- to leave class.

    I was outraged, humiliated (the whole class laughed) and unbelievably hurt. I asked the teacher why she took me out of class, instead of the others, and she said it was 'to get me out of that situation.' She could have removed the BULLIES to end that situation, instead.

    There are countless examples of situations like that, in districts across the country. It results in "bullies not being reported" every day, and it results in students who are bullied not feeling safe at school.

    At the end of the day, it isn't just the responsibility of students to report bullying... it's the responsibility of teachers and administrators to keep an eye out for acts of bullying, to call it out and to create a safe space for school for everyone. Period.

    I simply don't believe -- for a second -- that there weren't at least some teachers or administrators who saw this latest victim at some point and was concerned over bullying. Until those teachers and administrators are forced to do something about even the hint or suspicion of bullying, in every school, students who are victims won't be safe.

    Posted by: R | Dec 5, 2012 4:32:22 PM

  5. I don't understand all the suicides. The parents almost always know and support them. When I was a kid in school I was bullied (many years ago-because I'm very old), but if I could have told my parents I was gay (different word then) I would have done some bulling of my own. But I was always the nice polite little queer. My parents never did know for sure that I was gay.

    Posted by: Jellybean | Dec 5, 2012 4:33:53 PM

  6. I'm sorry I wasn't able to be strong enough. That single comment encapsulates so much. That comment takes my breath away. It makes me want to cry. That really speaks to the fact LGBTQ teens are being DESTROYED. It's one thing to be bullied. It's another thing to be targeted for destruction and have absolutely no outlet you feel comfortable with to speak out against what's happening to you.

    Essentially all the suicides have been happening in conservative areas. Rural areas. Suburban towns. There is a reason for that. Not only are these areas generally more ignorant in regards to their views on homosexuality, but LGBTQ teens have no voice, no power whatsoever, and no real groundswell of support. There is no community for them to go to. And they're not comfortable. They stick out like sore thumbs. They aren't comfortable being out. The toxic society they live in harms their sense of self. Which leads to depression and these teens becoming withdrawn. Which leads to suicide.

    Parents HAVE TO KNOW if their child is becoming more withdrawn in their nature that something is usually wrong, often times very wrong, and to step in immediately. Especially if you're child is gay. Even if your child doesn't want to talk about his/her issues, parents have to take action. They have to be aggressive and go the extra mile and more to protect and save their children.

    I honestly don't expect to see these incidents of suicide and anti-gay bullying end easily or quickly. That's the reality. Suburban Michigan is NOT going to be gay-friendly just because we want it to. So what needs to happen are LGBT adults in these communities and countrywide are going to have to go to bat for these children. And if that means building queer-centric schools, if that means lawsuits, if that means demanding anti-bullying centers at schools, and if that means demanding Straight-Gay Alliances and Queer studies, then that's what we have to do.

    That's what people in these COMMUNITIES who are gay and gay accepting have to do. THEY are the ones who are going to have to come out, be heard and be counted. They're scared and generally living discreet lives because they know the homophobic mentality around them is so strong, but the only way it's going to change is if they fight it.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 5, 2012 4:34:24 PM

  7. what struck me about his "i'm sorry i wast' strong enough" was that he was Out. to his family. as a high school junior. there are grown adults reading this right now who are still not out to their own family members.

    this kid was stronger than he thought. i just wish he'd known it.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 5, 2012 4:39:47 PM

  8. the other sad fact - parents need to know when their kid is A BULLY.

    and when it comes to anti-gay kids, the parents often don't care. they'd rather an anti-gay kid than a gay one. sad ugly truth.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 5, 2012 4:44:48 PM

  9. Michigan outside of Ann Arbor and Ferndale and a couple other communities within cities is not a gay-friendly state, and it's laws are not gay-friendly either, so thus, it's not a surprise there are countless anti-gay stories coming from the state. That's the reality. The thing is, that there is NO state in the United States that is unconditionally pro-gay. And we are discriminated against on every single level in society. And that has a tremendous affect in how society sees us and why these suicides, why hate crimes, still exist.

    Why not bully us when the US Government basically tells society every single day we're lesser humans? In select cities that may not be an issue as there is as comprehensive LGBT rights and overall social acceptance, but Fenton, Michigan ain't New York City.

    Instead of trashing these states and conservative towns and communities and writing them off as flyover states, we need to focus on protecting our LGBTQ youth in these areas and giving them some hope and a face to their struggles, their lives, their love interests. They need us. We need to reach out to them instead of fighting on a message board.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 5, 2012 4:44:49 PM

  10. francis i could kiss you.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 5, 2012 4:45:33 PM

  11. So true on both accounts, Kiwi. In fact, Jordan was stronger than a LARGE portion of adult gays who live in these conservative towns. Heck, he's stronger than most gays in general since most gay people aren't fully out. Where are they to support these kids? Where are they to do their part to change the culture? Nowhere to be found.

    The schools need to actually do something about the bullying but they won't do s**t, as they are more concerned about lawsuits than the lives of their youth----especially if they're gay. These problems are way deeper than just bullying. It's a cultural issue. Jordan's support from parents doesn't change the fact that outside of the home, even on the web, teens in his situation are still under duress no-one should have to face solely for who they are.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 5, 2012 4:49:12 PM

  12. Andy:

    Censoring me?

    John Simpson

    Posted by: John Simpson | Dec 5, 2012 4:59:59 PM

  13. Why do cases like this always bring all the "experts" here, posting on how to prevent suicide, without knowing anything about this kid, the family, the situation, their physical and mental health, finances, etc. You all think you're Martin Buber or something ? What did you survive in life that makes you such sages about ANYTHING ?

    Posted by: Yupp | Dec 5, 2012 5:00:49 PM

  14. Kisses, Kiwi, you're amazing and you know I adore you. This really pisses me off more than anything else, though, which I am sure you understand. I'm half crying and half angry, because these children are being so obviously failed, the ways to fix these issues are so obvious, and then people want to get on soapboxes and blame the victim or argue pointlessly. Put all that to the side. Put the ego to the side. Kids are dying. We can do something to fix that.

    If you're not involved with the Trevor Project, a local LGBTQ community group/homeless shelter/etc. then you have nothing to say here. You're either part of the solution or part of the problem. And now it's clearly time to, as I said, not dismiss these conservative states and towns, and start demanding action, and that would be LGBTQ groups in these communities, in the country, and LGBTQ groups/people in states where gay acceptance/rights are less of a pressing issue.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 5, 2012 5:01:39 PM

  15. i hear ya, francis. i've taken part in city council meetings and discussion over LGBT-inclusive curriculum, and we always get those failures of parents who show up to say "i dont' want my children learning about gay people!" and whenever others point out that their kids are not only likely to become anti-gay bullies but could very well be GAY THEMSELVES, they stare at us blankly like they don't understand such a concept.

    they don't want kids to learn about LGBT equality. inclusivity. understanding. and are utterly unaware that no matter how bigoted they are, and how bigoted they try to raise their kids to be, it will not prevent their own children from being gay.

    they fight and fight and fight to make life harder for young people. it's galling.

    what michigan republicans did to the anti-gay bullying school policies is an affront to human rights and dignity.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 5, 2012 5:06:15 PM

  16. And, Kiwi ! Are you still butting in on American blogs ?! Somebody needs to give your butt a good Batgirl-high-kick out of here (werk !)

    Posted by: Yupp | Dec 5, 2012 5:11:46 PM

  17. it's amazing, francis, that we have adults in power who care more about a "child's right to bully" than about a child's right to get educated in a bully-free environment.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Dec 5, 2012 5:18:44 PM

  18. When I read this I cried for another young soul who could not make it.
    All of us have made this 'coming out', this rite of passage in some way; many are damaged beyond repair, some are thrown into the depths of self doubt; others seek affirmation in religion; and then there are those of us ( of whom I am one )incandescent with rage at being treated unequally.

    But I think and believe that none of us have grown up with the respect and regard of our fellow citizens to which we are entitled. Whether by way of bullying, denigration in public or in employment, we have been regarded as a target, fair game, for harassment in the Scouts, in Football, we have been singled out by religious leaders and by extreme right wing fascists.....
    The truth is that bullying is another manifestation of the State and Religion sponsored malice that has followed us, whether in the $hit hole of Uganda or the pretentious Nazi- Vatican. Bullying does not stand alone; it stands with the small terrified little weasels of the Family Association and like minded bigots.

    My God, we have such a mountain of an iceberg to climb !!!......and we are no where near conquering this malevolent sickness, whether called bullying or malice or bigotry or discrimination.

    My whole sympathy to the parents and friends of this boy.....we are all diminished .
    (Too many tears to even re-read this.)

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Dec 5, 2012 5:19:05 PM

  19. Sorry, Kiwi. We don't live in lilly-white (behaved students) Canada here. It's rough to control some schools.

    Posted by: Yupp | Dec 5, 2012 5:20:49 PM

  20. Michigan has an anti-gay adoption bill in circulation, potentially to be passed.

    Michigan gutted gay protections from the anti-bullying bull and included a clause protecting religious bigotry against homosexuality.

    Michigan is the state where they have been SEVERAL anti-gay incidents regarding teachers the past 12-18 months alone. Including an incident just last week.

    Michigan has virtually no state protections for LGBTQ citizens.

    This is the reality. Michigan is an anti-gay state. It's not the only one. Outside of the West and East coasts and Iowa, basically the entire rest of the country is homophobic on every level to a major extent. Michigan isn't any different.

    Yupp, Kiwi has bright ideas and is someone who is actually doing something to change hearts and minds. He's someone doing something productive. Instead of attacking him, start asking yourself are you doing what you need to do, and if not, start doing more.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 5, 2012 5:29:52 PM

  21. Francis : B.S. Kiwi is a trust-fund baby living a coddled life in Canada who changes nobody's mind on anything. He is bored, boring, and abusive. And he's jealous of guys who actually move to NYC or L.A. to try to make it without their parents (and parents' $). Werk !

    Posted by: Yupp | Dec 5, 2012 5:34:21 PM

  22. YUPP: what's with the hostility towards Canada?

    Posted by: BETTY | Dec 5, 2012 5:40:11 PM

  23. :(

    Posted by: ratbastard | Dec 5, 2012 5:40:46 PM

  24. Betty : I LOVE Canada. And Canadians. I'm just saying there's a large percentage of Canadians that have it so good (deservedly) that they shouldn't be overcommenting on American issues, because they don't really understand a lot of American factors involved. (Like when people from Vermont try to comment on crime in Atlanta, Georgia).

    Posted by: Yupp | Dec 5, 2012 5:45:26 PM

  25. That was really a profound comment, Jack. Really touching and real.

    No, we aren't close to ending this battle, but we're getting closer. As tragic as it sounds, every time something like this occurs, it brings light to the issue of bullying, of suicide, of homophobia. And a discussion of these issues is one of the ways to create change.

    Kiwi, you're 100% right about the fact that anti-gay parents/school administrators/religious leaders/whatever, they are DETERMINED to ruin our community. As you encountered personally, they are too stupid to realize that kids are gay, that they are born gay, and that their constant attempts to demonize gay sexuality harms their well-being. They are too bigoted to comprehend the fact their extreme homophobia will not turn their children straight if they are born gay. Then you have the Arthur Goldberg's and Anita Bryant's who DO have an LGBT child, and they can't handle it, and become even more hateful. They think we're corrupted, they think we corrupt children.

    And you're SO right too Kiwi about how adults care more about "free speech" and misapplying that term, and are more concerned about society being too "PC" and keeping their boys will be boys social abstract intact, then actually protecting children. Which comes down to privilege. It also is arrogance. We should stop trying to change society, because it's not societies fault you're a freak. Bullying is a ritual, it makes kids stronger, if your kid can't handle it, too bad.

    And you know what...........why would they want to see society evolve when the current ignorant society they exist in PROFITS them? They want to keep the little people down, they want to keep anyone "different" down, they want to continue to see people victimized, and they don't care if kids are involved. These adults are bullies themselves. They don't care one bit. It's all about power and it's all about hate and a complete lack of basic human regard, for human beings.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 5, 2012 5:47:52 PM

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