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 mother’s 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. Full article at GLSEN
Carl did not identify as gay, but this tragedy serves as a reminder that anti-LGBT bullying can have devastating effects on all students, particularly during the vulnerable years of budding sexuality and peer pressure.
Carl would have turned 12 tomorrow, April 17, 2009 — the National Day of Silence.
Contrary to claims made by the religious right organizations and various members of their flocks, promoting homosexuality is not the purpose of the DoS. The purpose is simply to bring awareness of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment, and to promote effective responses to it. It is not about allowing gay students to disrupt class for the day to promote a “homosexual agenda”, as many claim.
Students of all beliefs, backgrounds and sexual orientations participate in the Day of Silence.
When I called my son’s middle school, I was pleased to learn that they will recognize the DoS. An announcement will be made in the morning, and the event will take place during lunch. In an effort to counter some of the negative response they are sure to receive, I offered my thanks and support, and assured them that my son will be in attendance.
Rambling On will also recognize the National Day of Silence tomorrow, April 17, 2009. No new posts will be made, and comments will be held in moderation until the morning of April 18. I will change the settings now in case I’m unable to get back to it later, but I will do my best to check in and moderate comments before I shut down for the night. Comments made after around 7:00 p.m. Central Time will not likely be seen until the morning of the 17th, and will therefore be held in moderation until the following morning.
My heart goes out to the family of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover and to all the other families and individuals who know first hand the harsh realities surrounding anti-LGBT bullying and harassment.
To those who have experienced the humiliation of being tormented simply for being who you are: You are valued, loved and appreciate by more people than you may ever realize. Your life is precious and other people’s lives are enriched by your presence in the world. Please be good to yourself — you deserve it!