By Ryan E. Alekman, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network
An 11 year old Springfield, Massachusetts boy recently committed suicide after daily
taunting and teasing incidents of being gay. His mother made weekly pleas to the school about the problem that ended in her son’s death. Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover died by hanging himself.
A child should not have to endure such teasing and taunting anywhere, and certainly not at school. Teasing and bullying takes many different forms, and unfortunately bullies will find something to pick on. Schools are meant for education, and this education needs to include teaching the bully what his or her actions do to others, and to also work with all children to explain that bullies are often acting out of their own insecurities. Teachers need to be better trained to notice bullying and its victims.
Even though schools should be havens of safety and education for children, unfortunately, they are often the source and location of angst for children who are gay, appear to be gay, or are singled out by bigoted and ignorant students who label or accuse them of being gay. Sexual orientation in one direction or another is no excuse whatsoever for intolerant bullying behavior any more than the color of someone’s hair or skin.
Almost 90 % of LGBT (lesbian – gay – bisexual – transgender) teens report that they have been verbally harassed at school. Over 40 % report being physically harassed. This is simply unacceptable. Children should be taught that everyone is different, and to appreciate and accept those differences. When needed, schools should take swift corrective action to ensure that bullying isn’t tolerated. Far too often victims of bullying end up committing suicide or committing acts like those that occurred ten years ago in Columbine, Colorado. The stakes are simply too high to allow what happened to young Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover to happen again.
You can read more about the problems with bullying in schools at Bullying of Gay Students – Problem and Statistics.