Bullying is an omnipresent and seemingly ever-growing problem in schools these days, so much so that CNN has an upcoming special about it beginning Monday. Bullying at any level is uncalled for and unacceptable, but is horrifying when a child is literally “bullied to death,” as in the case of Phoebe Prince and now 13-year-old Asher Brown, who was ridiculed by his classmates for “for being small. For his religious beliefs. For the way he dressed. And for being gay.”
Asher Brown was an eighth grader at Hamilton Middle School in Harris, TX – outside of Houston. His step-father, David Truong, told MyFox Houston, “For some reason, he stood out and people were just cruel. Kids were cruel to my kid. He was very different. He’s not the type of kid that would try to wear the newest clothes or try to do the coolest thing. He was an individual.” An individual who came out to his parents over the summer, and possibly went on to be openly gay at school.
His mother Amy Truong says Asher’s classmates “called him different names for being homosexual,” and that “he just had enough.” According to Queerty, “Asher took his own life with his stepfather’s 9 mm Beretta.”
Asher’s parents notified his school a year-and-a-half ago that their son was being bullied, but administrators did nothing – and in fact are continuing to deny that there was a problem and that the Truong’s tried to do anything about it. It goes without saying that this type of behavior is outrageous, both on the part of students and school officials.
As I watched AC360 tonight, I was particularly concerned about a story I saw centering on a young man named Chris Armstrong, the first openly gay student body president at the University of Michigan, who is being cyber-attacked by – get this – the Assistant Attorney General of the State of Michigan, Andrew Shirvell. If grown adults are engaging in this type of homophobia and bullying, how are we to expect children to know any better? Dan Savage runs a project called “It Gets Better,” to encourage beleaguered gay teens to hang in there and rise above the ignorance of their peers. I sure hope it makes a difference for other kids, but for Asher Brown and his family, it’s already too late.
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