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Old 04-10-2009, 03:01 PM   #1
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Default 11-Year-Old Hangs Himself after Enduring Daily Anti-Gay Bullying

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NEW YORK, April 9, 2009 - An 11-year-old Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hung himself Monday after enduring bullying at school, including daily taunts of being gay, despite his motherís weekly pleas to the school to address the problem. This is at least the fourth suicide of a middle-school aged child linked to bullying this year.

Carl, a junior at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield who did not identify as gay, would have turned 12 on April 17, the same day hundreds of thousands of students will participate in the 13th annual National Day of Silence by taking some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) bullying and harassment at school. The other three known cases of suicide among middle-school students
took place in Chatham, Evanston and Chicago, Ill., in the month of February.

"Our hearts go out to Carlís mother, Sirdeaner L. Walker, and other members of Carl's family, as well as to the community suffering from this loss," GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. "As we mourn yet another tragedy involving bullying at school, we must heed Ms. Walkerís urgent call for real, systemic, effective responses to the endemic problem of bullying and harassment. Especially in this time of societal crisis, adults in schools must be alert to the heightened pressure children face, and take action to create safe learning environments for the students in their care. In order to do that effectively, as this case so tragically illustrates, schools must deal head-on with anti-gay language and behavior."

Two of the top three reasons students said their peers were most often bullied at school were actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, according to From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America, a 2005 report by GLSEN and Harris Interactive. The top reason was physical appearance.

"As was the case with Carl, you do not have to identify as gay to be attacked with anti-LGBT language," Byard said. "From their earliest years on the school playground, students learn to use anti-LGBT language as the ultimate weapon to degrade their peers. In many cases, schools and teachers either ignore the behavior or donít know how to intervene."

Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (86.2%) reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, nearly half (44.1%) reported being physically harassed and about a quarter (22.1%) reported being physically assaulted, according to GLSENís 2007 National School Climate Survey of more than 6,000 LGBT students.

In most cases, the harassment is unreported. Nearly two-thirds of LGBT students (60.8%) who experience harassment or assault never reported the incident to the school. The most common reason given was that they didnít believe anything would be done to address the situation. Of those who did report the incident, nearly a third (31.1%) said the school staff did nothing in response. While LGBT youth face extreme victimization, bullying in general is also a widespread problem. More than a third of middle and high school students (37%) said that bullying, name-calling or harassment is a somewhat or very serious problem at their school, according to From Teasing to Torment. Bullying is even more severe in middle school. Two-thirds of middle school students (65%) reported being assaulted or harassed in the previous year and only 41% said they felt very safe at school.

Carl's suicide comes about a year after eighth-grader Lawrence King was shot and killed by a fellow student in a California classroom, allegedly because he was gay.

GLSEN recommends four simple approaches schools can take to begin addressing bullying now.

Said Walker in the Springfield Republican: "If anything can come of this, it's that another child doesn't have to suffer like this and there can be some justice for some other child. I don't want any other parent to go through this."
This is so heartbreaking.
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Old 04-10-2009, 03:11 PM   #2
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I am actually speechless
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Old 04-10-2009, 03:18 PM   #3
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Gosh, that's terrible. I am going to be attending an anti-bullying workshop fairly soon and I might bring this up (ie how to deal with children who are gay or different in some way and how to handle that).

I wish that we never had to hear news like this; I wish that the world was a protected place for children, especially school environments. Unfortunately that is not the case. I remember being picked on daily in school and the only way I could deal with it was by crying every day to my mom. She sent me to a counselor. Even they couldn't help me. But I never decided to take my own life. And somehow, some way, I've made peace with the negative that has happened to me. I just feel sorry for a child who was unable to feel that security in the face of adversity.

I feel like crying right now. There are probably plenty of people here, gay, fat, minority, whatever, who grew up in an intolerant place, and dealt with bullying for whatever reason. There are probably all kinds of people who have been picked on at some point in their lives for something they can't help at all - but hopefully they have become happy, well-adjusted adults. I know that doesn't always happen and some people struggle to feel okay forever.

God Bless this child, and may he rest in peace. He deserves peace...
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Old 04-10-2009, 08:01 PM   #4
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This is ALL over the news on NECN in New England. It is infuriating to me-- as a victim of severe bullying, harassment (physical and otherwise) it kills me to see authority figures STILL treating bullying as "just something kids do." It's REALLY time to seriously address the cruelty children are so adept at doling out.
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Old 04-10-2009, 10:33 PM   #5
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...it kills me to see authority figures STILL treating bullying as "just something kids do." It's REALLY time to seriously address the cruelty children are so adept at doling out.
Amen. People, no matter how young, apparently, can be disgusting. If issues like this aren't addressed in childhood (by schools? sure), then many will just grow up to be bigotted adults.

This is a terrible story, but there never seem to be enough of them to get the point across.
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