Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bullying + Bigotry

Phoebe Prince, CBS News

Longtime readers of the blog will no doubt remember Phoebe Prince, the Irish girl who moved to the states, got lonely and loose with a boy and was then bullied to the point of suicide. Phoebe was 15 at the time of her suicide. There was all manner of excuse made by the school, the children bullying her, and the failure of the system to protect a vulnerable child. 

I'm sure there are schools that do much that is right on the issue of bullying. But it's those schools who appear to do so little that stand out. Personal Failure posted her thoughts about gay bigotry, along with a link to an article on Asher Brown. 

Asher Brown, family photo

Asher Brown was a 13 year old Houston boy who was struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. After years of bullying at school, about his short stature, his apparel, his religious beliefs and ultimately because he was gay, last week Asher Brown committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. The Houston Chronicle notes that the school district's spokesperson Kelli Durham says that they just didn't know that Asher was being bullied and tormented. Asher's parents, Amy and David Truong say that they had talked to school counselors and their son's assistant principal at Hamilton Middle School many times. The statement reportedly infuriated the Truongs:

"That's absolutely inaccurate — it's completely false," Amy Truong said. "I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. … It's like they're calling us liars."
David Truong said, "We want justice. The people here need to be held responsible and to be stopped. It did happen. There are witnesses everywhere."

Houston's KRIV Channel 26 says that parents and youths who were interviewed confirmed that the bullying had gone on for years. The consensus was that the Cypress-Fairbanks District has a poor record of dealing with bullying. Evidently it's a lot of work to make sure your teens are bullied onto suicide. And you need all that video proof and all because just having parents tell you by phone is, well, not really proof of any problems.

Asher was physically bullied in addition to enduring verbal insults. The day before his death he was reportedly pushed down a flight of stairs and his book bag was kicked open and then he was kicked further when he tried to recover his books.

Ms. Durham said there was no video footage to prove that the events occurred.

I suppose if I were religious I would think that Asher Brown is in a better place and is at peace now. Instead, I think of his just being bullied, let down by the school system and dead. How much I wonder, was swept aside because of this child's homosexuality? Much as it seems like it was possibly so, I look at Phoebe Prince and think that perhaps... just perhaps, it had less to do with Asher's being gay than it had to do with a school staff just not giving a damn. 

I really wish that the school personnel and the youths that bullied this child, literally to his death, could just be locked into a closet together so that they can act like the wolves they are and devour each other. Permitting this type of violence in schools guarantees our future with these people as adults will be rather interesting, doesn't it?

Sadly, that closet thing is not going to happen and even if it did, it wouldn't help Asher's mother and stepfather bear there loss any differently. Because I can't imagine how they must wonder if there wasn't something else they could have done to save him.

I wonder how Kelli Durham and her colleagues are sleeping at night.

If you want the bigotry angle, please check out La Comtesse Personal Failure's post over at Forever in Hell.

Steel yourself. 

© Bright Nepenthe, 2010

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