Two 11-year-olds were separately found dead in their respective homes mid-April, the victims of persistent homophobic bullying at school.
Sixth grader Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover’s mother found her son hanging from an extension cord in Springfield, Massachusetts. An active boy scout, he also played baseball and football. When classmates began mocking him with gay slurs, making fun of his clothes and for attending church, his mother called the school. However, she said the school was unresponsive.
In a similar incident just days later, fifth grader Jaheem Herrera hung himself with a belt in DeKalb, Georgia. Knowing her son was targeted by bullies, Herrera’s mother said she contacted the school, but Dunaire Elementary officials have refused to comment on allegations that the bullying is linked to the suicide.
“They called him gay and a snitch. All the time they’d call him this,” Herrera’s stepfather told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has reported four suicides of middle school aged children influenced by anti-gay bullying this year alone.