ronkempmusic

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

Posts Tagged ‘Jacob Rogers

And, Then There’s Tennessee

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Some of you may have already seen this article posted on the facebook blog page or elsewhere on the Internet.  According to Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison, teen suicides are due to bad parenting.  I can make this stuff up.

We can’t continue to legislate everything and we’ve had some horrible things happen in America and in our state, and there’s children that have actually committed suicide, but I will submit to you today that they did not commit suicide because of somebody bullying them. They committed suicide because they were not instilled the proper principles of where their self-esteem came from at home.

I don’t even know where to begin.

Let me make sure I’ve got this right:

  1. Bullied teens who commit suicide have their parents to blame.
  2. It’s more important to protect the bullies than it is to protect the victims of it.
Ok, if a middle- or high school student takes a weapon to school, a gun or a knife or whatever, and attacks another student, is that a criminal act?  Yes.  It’s called assault.  In Maryland, it would be called assault with a deadly weapon, with the possibility of the added charge of assault with the intent to maim.  Either, or both, charges would certainly then make the perpetrator a “criminal”, and they would be facing significant time.  If a middle- or high school student takes a  weapon to school, gun or knife or whatever, and kills another student, is that a criminal act?  Of course it is.  It’s called murder.  So, how is it that if that same middle- or high school student bullies another student, be it verbally or physically (and, always emotionally), so badly and so relentlessly that the bullied teen resorts to ending his or her life, they should be absolved of any wrong doing?  Explain to me so that I can fully understand justhow does sending these kids to the Principal’s office for detention is going to solve anything?  A child is dead because of his/her actions!  That makes THEM responsible!  Jacob Rogers is gone because of bullies.  Phillip Parker is gone because of bullies.  And, Jeremy Faison wants to send their bullies to detention.  He doesn’t want them to become criminals.  I won’t mention the fact that they’ve already committed criminal acts.  And, when it comes to the targeted bullying of LGBT teens, just as it is with bullying based upon race, the potential is there for it to be a hate crime.
That Mr. Faison could even dream of blaming the parents of the suicide victims is beyond reprehension.  What he did with his statement was kick these families, who are already reeling from the untimely and unnecessary death of their beloved young child, right in the gut.  Worse, he’s now on record as saying that, in his misguided opinion, it’s more important to protect who cause death by their actions of hatred and intolerance than it is provide protection for those who are suffering.
If there’s any “failure” to be “good parents”, wouldn’t it make sense that it would be the parents of those who find it necessary to demean, verbally and sometimes physically batter others to the point where they feel suicide is the only remaining option for them to make the bullying stop?  The obvious ones with self-esteem issues are the ones who feel the need to put others down in order to make themselves feel good. (and, yes, thatis a problem that needs to be addressed if we’re to tackle this issue of bullying/teen suicide)  To a further extent, where are these young people learning to hate and be so intolerant at such an early age.  They weren’t born that way.  Hatred and intolerance is taught and, in most cases, it starts at home.  Good parenting?
I’ve pointed out before, several times actually, that these lawmakers were elected into office.  The question has to be “how”?  To a further extent, the larger question, in my opinion, should be “how are they staying in office”?  And, to show a little equity to Jeremy Faison, he’s not the only problem in the Tennessee legislation.  There is still a push to pass a bill that would make it illegal for teachers to even say the very word “gay” in their classrooms.  They are also one of the states that wants to make it legal for LGBT teens to be bullied as long as it was because of the bully’s religious, political, or philosophical beliefs.  There’s a definite problem with bias and intolerance in Tennessee’s legislation, and it’s costing lives.  Worse, there are those in the Tennessee legislation who seem to be perfectly okay with that.  In fact, they now have one legislator on record as saying that he wants to protect the bullies.
Power in numbers?  Politicians are “hired” by virtue of our votes.  As such, they can be “fired” by virtue of our votes.  This isn’t about politics.  Enough is Enough isn’t a political blog.  This is about stopping the madness of bullying and teen suicides.  And, in particular, LGBT teen suicides.  Having paid, elected officials introduce laws that goes against preventing bullying and, especially, teen suicides only assures that we’re going to continue seeing the spike in bullying, teen suicides, and especially LGBT teen suicides.  After all, strip away all of their smoke and filters, and what they’re really saying is that they’re homophobic and don’t really care about what’s happening to our LGBT youth.  That is unacceptable.

Dalton Lee Walker, 12, Bullying Victim

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On the day the movie “Bully” is released for the public to view comes the sad news out of Princeton, West Virginia of 12-year-old Dalton Lee Walker.  Dalton ended his life Wednesday, March 28th, because of being bullied.

Dalton’s mother says that she had met with school officials on several occasions to discuss the problem of bullying as it pertained to her son.  According to his half-sister, Dalton had been teased regularly at school, and it just became too much for him to handle.

The issue of bullying has caught national, and even international, attention.  That’s a good thing.  However, the problem isn’t going away.  It’s not as if I’m foolish enough to think that it will disappear overnight.  Of course it won’t.  At the same time, I still don’t see where it’s being taken seriously enough by the people who can really make a difference for it to truly start making a difference.

In a day and age where children have instant access to the world 24/7, via Internet, bullying has become a ’round-the-clock phenomena.  Potentially, at least.  And, here’s the most important part of that:  these young people are NOT just witnessing bullying on a personal level, from their attackers.  They’re also seeing it from adults.  That’s devastating on two levels:

  • the kids who bully see the politicians, religious leaders, and other heralded adults doing it, and doing it in a public forum.  It’s like handing a 16-year-old his Driver’s License.  He’s now allowed to drive; they are, by virtue of what they are witnessing on a daily basis, allowed to bully.
  • when at-risk youngsters see these public figures essentially sanctioning bullying through their own actions, it sends them the message that no one is going to give a rat’s ass about them being bullied.  Jacob Rogers voiced such concerns before ending his life in December.

What’s going to make a difference, what’s really going to save these incredibly young people from ending their lives, before their lives even truly had a chance to begin, is a change in the mindset of the adults.  That’s nothing new.  It’s been said here before.  It’s been said in other places, as well.  The change is going to have to start with the adults.  Parents need to stay plugged in to what’s going on with their children; school administrators need to step up their effort a few levels to prevent it, which will entail taking every case seriously; and, our nation’s “leaders” need to either change their rhetoric as to not send the message that it’s okay to hate and be intolerant, or they need to be removed from their positions.

Hatred, meanness, intolerance:  these are not things we’re born with.  Our innate emotion is love…and, acceptance.  Beyond that, those who hate, those who are intolerant, are taught those emotions, either directly or indirectly.  And, most of the time, the “teacher” is an adult.

Dalton’s bullies were not adults:  they were his peers.  Kids at Princeton Middle School who thought is was okay to tease and bully Dalton until he couldn’t take it anymore.

I will note here that there was no reason given for Dalton’s bullying; therefore, we cannot speculate.  It doesn’t matter what he was bullied for.  What matters it that he was bullied, and now he’s gone.   May you now find peace, Dalton.  And, to the family and friends of Dalton, we send our heartfelt condolences and love.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS BEING BULLIED, SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY!!  DON’T STOP SEEKING HELP UNTIL YOU FIND SOMEONE WHO WILL LISTEN AND TAKE ACTION.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE SUICIDAL, PLEASE SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY!!  THERE ARE MANY, MANY RESOURCES AROUND FOR YOU.  

Suicide Support 

STOP Teenage Suicide  

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

EricJames Borges’ Final Words

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He was a very gifted young man.  His talent for filmmaking was made evident in the short film he made not long before his death.  People who knew him well said that EricJames had just barely scratched the surface of what would’ve been a terrific career and very rewarding life.  Scorned, demonized, abused both physically and emotionally by his parents, EricJames was left with scars from his coming out process that he couldn’t recover from.  In a perfect world, EricJames’ parents would be charged with homicide for his death.  This isn’t a perfect world, and that will never happen.  No more so than the school administrators and State officials will be held culpable in the suicides of Phillip Parker or Jacob Rogers.

Memorial services were held for EricJames this past weekend.  Hundreds attended.  They went to remember.  They went to mourn.  And, they went to celebrate a gifted young life that’s tragically, and needlessly, gone too soon.  It’s noteworthy that his parents, the two people who gave him life only to take it away, didn’t show up to the memorial services.  They were invited.

EricJames’ last words, in a copyrighted suicide note that I’m not privy to, spoke lovingly to the ones who would become his de facto family in the end:  the ones who really cared and loved him.  He spoke of Lady Gaga, leaving money to her Born This Way Foundation which benefits LGBT youth.  He also left money to several other LGBT organizations that would help LGBT teens.  As was shown in his “It Gets Better” video, recorded a month before his suicide, and in death, EricJames was passionate about helping other LGBT teens so they wouldn’t have to experience the sheer hell he was put through.

It is critical that we understand that the work that needs to be done before we can end teen-on-teen bullying pales in comparison to the work that needs to be done dealing with the adults in our society.  The kids are a mere reflection of what they’re learning from the adults.  That a parent could inflict the type of pain EricJames’ parents inflicted upon him is reprehensible, if not criminal.  No child should ever have to endure that, especially from the ones who gave him life.  Yet, it happens.  EricJames is not an isolated case.  That lawmakers can even dream of passing the type of damaging laws that a Michele Bachmann, a Stacey Campfield, or a John Ragan not only dream of but sign into law is reckless, irresponsible, and dangerous.  I’ve said it many times before, but it bears saying many more times:  the war against bullying has to start with the adults.  There’s no way around it.

“My pain is not caused because I’m gay.  My pain was caused by the way I was treated because I am gay.”  Pause to absorb that for a moment.  It can’t get more to the point than that.  Those were the words EricJames wrote to end his suicide note.

I hope you’re at peace now, EricJames.  Your family misses you.  Your real family.

Petitions to STOP Tennessee Lawmakers from Victimizing the LGBT Community

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I read yet another heartbreaking article about Phillip Parker and the abuse he endured.  I cried.  It went as far as the church, a pastor, telling him to pray the demons out of him so that he could be straight.  Yes.  In Tennessee, being gay is demonic.  How many more lives will be lost to this sickness that’s being passed off as Tennessee law?  How many more LGBT teens will be cornered into suicide as the bigoted, myopic lawmakers continue to endorse and pass legislation that sanctions their abuse, prevents teachers to intervene in the abuse, and completely demonize their existence?

There are petitions already in place to force their hands.  There is power in numbers.  Here are three petitions that NEEDS to be signed and then massively circulated.  There needs to be an overwhelming number of names on these petitions so that we can show them that we will no longer tolerate their intolerance.  Reversing, or stopping, these bills will work towards providing protection for the LGBT youth of Tennessee as well as stripping away the power to freely discriminate against the LGBT community, in general.

This petition is to force the Tennessee lawmakers to eliminate the language in the anti-bullying bill that would allow for the bullying of LGBT citizens, teens in particular, as long as it’s done for religious, philosophical, or politic believes.  This is a very crucial petition.  Sign and share.  And, share.

This petition strips away the insanely myopic and bigoted “Don’t Say Gay” bill.  Without that bill in place, Phillip Parker may still be alive today.  The teachers who wanted to help would’ve been able to do so without breaking the law.  Understand:  it is illegal for teachers to intervene if an LGBT teen is being abused; it’s illegal for counselors to counsel them!  Sign and share.  And, share.  And, encourage others to share.

This petition  is to help protect other LGBT teens in Cheatham County, where Jacob Rogers committed suicide in December.  The rules MUST be changed; the laws MUST be reversed.  There has to be stronger policies in place to protect the LGBT teens going to school in Tennessee.  And, it’s up to all of us, concerned citizens, to push for change.  The lawmakers there have already shown that they’d rather see them kill themselves off.  Zero tolerance!

Phillip Parker and the Tennessee Legislation

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The more I read about Phillip Parker, the 14-year-old LGBT youth who committed suicide in Tennessee Friday, the angrier I get.  According to several different stories, the bullying had been going on for a long period of time.  His family was overwhelmed with information about the verbal, emotional, and physical abuse he endured over the weekend when it was, sadly, too late.  However, the report is that several of his friends did, in fact, go to teachers at Gordonsville High School to tell what was happening to him, and no one did anything.  No interventions.  No calls to the family.  Nothing.  No one did anything!!!!  Heads need to roll.  Teachers, the principle, the whole school system needs to be held accountable.  This is criminal neglect if nothing else.  The ones responsible for the abuse also need to be sought out and punished severely.  There are people there who know exactly who’s responsible for it.  They have already gone forward with it to the school staff.  They need to go public with it, as in to the police.  Of course, none of it will help the Parker family or Phillips friends at this point.  But, it could go a long way to preventing another family in Tennessee from having to go through this.

Or, will it?

It seems that Tennessee, and more specifically it’s legislatures, have a problem with the LGBT community.  Tennessee has a “Don’t Say Gay” statute in place that prohibits teachers, basically, from acknowledging that gays and lesbians even exist.  Does that mean, then, that they can’t intervene if a LGBT student is being bullied, like Phillip was.  Like Jacob Rogers was?  Do they, by law, have to pretend that it’s not happening, look the other way when it involves an LGBT student?

In Tennessee, same-sex marriages are illegal.

In Tennessee, LGBT people are not protected from housing and employment discrimination.

In Tennessee, they are trying to pass that bill where bullying against members of the LGBT community will be sanctioned as long as it’s done for political, philosophical, or religious beliefs.  That’s a free pass to emotionally, psychologically, and physically abuse LGBT teens!  All they have to do is claim it was done because of their beliefs, and they get a get-out-of-jail-free card.

There needs to be outrage.  There needs to be petition after petition after petition.  Concerned parents need to be voicing their concerns.  Loudly!  It is mind-boggling that the citizens of Tennessee are allowing this to happen in their state.

Tennessee is apparently the nation’s hotbed for homophobia.  Comedian Tracy Morgan went on a homophobic rant at a Nashville comedy club, going as far as to say that he’d stab his son to death if said son was to come out as gay.  The significance of this is that it was met with a “thunderous applause”.    He said he’d kill his son if he turned out gay, and people applauded!?  How is this being allowed to happen in this country in 2012!?

Meanwhile, family and friends of Phillip Parker are searching for answers.  And, justice.  Unfortunately, they won’t find much justice in a state that passed a law that forbids teachers to even say the word “gay” in their classes.  They won’t find justice in a state that, just recently!, made it ok to discriminate against LGBT people in the housing and job markets.  They won’t find justice in a state that wants to sanction the bullying of LGBT teens.  Is there any wonder why teens like Phillip, and Jacob, felt such a sense of hopelessness that they ended their lives?

There’s a girl named Alissa.  She was Phillip’s best friend…”like brother and sister”.  Like his family, she’s in an awful lot of pain right now.  Another friend started a facebook page to honor the memory of Phillip.  Alissa has made painful posts there.  Please go and offer her words of encouragement.  She, along with the Parker family, needs to be surrounded by love right now.  Do it for Phillip.

Another Gay Teen Lost to Bullycide: Rest in Peace, Phillip Parker, 14

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Every time we lose another LGBT teen to bullycide, we suffer another setback in our efforts to end this malignancy plaguing the LGBT community.  Phillip Parker, 14, ended his young life last week after enduring bullying over a period of time at his Gordonsville, Tennessee high school.  Tennessee is also the state where Jacob Rogers succumbed to bullycide in early December and the same state that I wrote about, here, earlier in the month.  You may recall that Tennessee lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that will allow bullying as long as it is for religious, philosophical, or political beliefs.  We’re not going to let that happen.  A petition needs to be up within the next 24 hours to present to the Tennessee legislation letting them know that we will no accept them sanctioning bullying against LGBT teens.

According to the news report, Phillip’s family had gone to the school administrators numerous times to report that he was being bullied.  Nothing changed.  No, I’m wrong.  Things DID change.  Things actually got worse for him.  The bullying increased.  Finally, he’d had enough.

Knowing about these tragedies isn’t nearly enough.  What’s needed is a continued concerted effort of many people, loudly and strongly stating the message that “We’re mad as Hell, and we’re NOT gonna take it anymore!”  Every state legislature needs to be heavily petitioned until there are very strongly-worded laws on the books that will protect EVERY teen from the horrors of bullying.  The penalties for bullying need to be harsh.  After all, the penalties against the families and friends of those who take their own lives because of bullying are as harsh as it gets.  Further, school systems need to be penalized heavily for failure to a.)  provide each student with a safe learning environment; and, b.)  act upon complaints of bullying.  No way should they be allowed a free pass when a family losses their loved ones.

It goes without saying that our deepest sympathies and heart-felt prayers go out to the family and friends of 14-year-old Phillip Parker.  May you find peace in Paradise.

Tennessee Still Doesn’t Get It

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Ok, didn’t we just go through this with Michigan?  Following the failed lead of Michigan, Tennessee has a proposed bill that would make it ok to bully gay teens.  Or, as they self-righteously worded it: they are more interested in protecting “…those expressing religious, philosophical, or political beliefs…”  than they are in protecting gay teens.  Or, as they preposterously put it, they really DO want to protect kids from bullying, but they don’t want to “…create special classes of people who are more important than others.”  These are ELECTED officials!!  Officials that We The People put into office by virtue of our votes.

I would hope that every parent of lgbt teens in Tennessee will band together and, not only defeat this proposed bill before it even gets started,  start a grass root movement to get the person(s) responsible for even introducing such incredibly hateful, and potentially harmful, legislation in the first place.

Once again, we’re forced to look reality squarely in the eyes and acknowledge that the change that’s needed starts with the adults.  It’s an embarrassment to our “developed”, “civilized” society that we have elected officials who clearly, honestly believe that it is absolutely alright for your lgbt kids to be bullied as long as the bully is doing it in the name of God.  I don’t know about you, but it scares me in a deep place that there are people of power who believe this is a right and righteous decision.

Thank God (the loving God, that is) that there’s a huge army in place to combat madness such as this.  Collectively, we were able to get a similarly worded bill reworded in Michigan.  Now, we must focus our attention to Tennessee.  Whatever it takes, we have to make sure that this bill never even reaches the floor.  The Jacob Rogers’ of Tennessee are counting on us.