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Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

Brandon Elizares, 16, Bullied to Suicide

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The numbers just keep adding on.  On June 2nd, we lost yet another LGBT teen to suicide.  And, once again, it was to escape the bullying he had been enduring.

According to 16-year-old Brandon Elizares’ mother, he had been bullied for the past two years because he didn’t want to be in the closet.  Wanting to be who he was, with no apologies, cost him his life.  In a television interview, Zachalyn Elizares said:
“He got bullied simply for being gay,” Elizares said. “He’s been threatened to be stabbed. He’s been threatened to be set on fire.”
Elizares said the El Paso Independent school district did everything it could to help solve the problem.
“They’ve reprimanded several kids and they did everything that they could,” Elizares said.
Elizares said that Brandon’s friends told her that there was an incident on Friday at school where someone insulted her son and planned to fight him the next week.

How many more of these young lives will have to be lost before people finally stand up and say, “Enough is enough!!??  Brandon should be preparing for his summer vacation…maybe even a summer job.  Or, perhaps planning to event the 5-day long El Paso Pride festivities.  Instead, his family had to plan his funeral.  I don’t know about you, but my blood boils now when I read, and write, about another teen suicide.

In just the past two weeks alone, we’ve seen instance after instance where prominent public figures have made it crystal clear that they have no desire to live on the same planet with someone who’s from the LGBT community.  Much more often than not, their bigotry is rooted in religion.  Does their reckless, bigoted vitriol have an effect on young minds?  Of course it does.  I have a friend whose 15-year-old son spews anti-gay rhetoric, in accordance to the Bible, at her regularly and mocks her for her efforts in the fight for equality and anti-bullying campaign.  His views are shaped by a father who is, himself, a deep-rooted Bible thumper.  The world was introduced to Caiden Cowger last week and his ridiculous video about the President turning young people gay.  Caiden is 14.  Hatred and intolerance is NOT something we’re born with.  It’s a taught and learned behavior.  The ones who bully kids they perceive to be LGBT, real or imagined, learned that level of intolerance from somebody else.  Typically, they learn it from adults, but not exclusively.

“My son had every right to live his live the way that he wanted to, without having to fear that people would call him names or threaten to beat him up,” – Zachalyn Enizares

It’s sad that in the year 2012, we’re still seeing the type of mind-numbing hatred, intolerance, and bigotry that I saw when I was a young boy.  That was during the height of the Civil Rights movement of the 60s.  It’s sad that day after day after day, we’re seeing these young people end their own lives because someone else decided that they weren’t fit to exist.  To be sure, my aforementioned friend’s son finds it humorous that LGBT teens are killing themselves.  How will a person justify that when their time comes to stand before God to be judged? It’s sad that we, as a people, are not evolving.

Brandon Enizares should be preparing for his summer vacation.  He’s not.  Two years of relentless bullying because of his sexuality was more than he could handle.  For all of our efforts to bring about changes in our culture, one that allows people to live happily just as they are, much more needs to be done.

It was reported that the school officials at Andres High School in El Paso, where Brandon was a student, took bullying very seriously and did everything they could to prevent it.  They are to be commended.  Still, more needs to be done.  More needs to be done in the homes.  More needs to be done in the religious sector.  More needs to be done in the political arena.  The time has come for dramatic changes in our collective consciousness.  We need more love and less hate.  We need more acceptance and less intolerance.  We need these changes firmly in place before we can start seeing the teen suicide rate begin to come down.  And, we need these changes to begin yesterday.

May you rest in peace, Brandon.

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