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13-Year-Old Texas Boy Shoots Himself; Suffered ’Relentless’ Anti-Gay Bullying

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Sep 28, 2010
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A 13-year-old boy in Texas has killed himself after suffering ’relentless’ bullying at school, according to a Sept. 27 story in local newspaper the Houston Chronicle.

Asher Brown was a straight-A student, the article said, but he came in for harassment at school because of his religion and because he didn’t dress the way some of his peers expected he should. Asher’s parents told the media that their son was "bullied to death" by schoolmates, and said that the harassment Asher endured even took the form of simulated sex acts forced on the boy in gym class. The bullies, the bereaved parents said, called Asher gay and were "relentless" in their torments, even as Asher’s parents attempted on numerous occasions over the last year and a half to get school administrators to intervene.

Asher lived in the area of Cypress, Texas, and attended Hamilton Middle School, which is part of the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, the article said. Asher’s torments began two years ago when he began to attend the school, and he sought refuge in the company of other students who were similarly targeted for harassment, the article reported.

Asher’s stepfather said that the boy had come out as gay on the morning of Sept. 23, and his parents were supportive of him; but that afternoon, Asher shot and killed himself using his stepfather’s gun.

The school denied that Asher’s parents sought help for their son, and claimed not to know about the bullying that the boy allegedly suffered at the hands of his classmates. A spokesperson for the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, Kelli Durham, said that Asher’s parents had never reported the bullying their son endured or sought help from school officials.

"That’s absolutely inaccurate--it’s completely false," Asher’s mother, Amy Truong, told the media. "I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up." Added Truong, "It’s like they’re calling us liars."

"My son put a gun to his head because he couldn’t take what he was hearing and the constant teasing," stepfather David Truong said, according to a Fox26 news story posted on Sept. 27.

Fox 26 reported that Asher was also bullied at his previous school, prior to attending Hamilton Middle School, where the harassment he endured continued--and got even worse.

Nationally, children as young as 11 have committed suicide in recent years, after having endured relentless bullying at school. The bullying often takes the form of anti-gay taunts and harassment, even when the children being bullied are not gay. Groups such as the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) seek to provide educational materials in order to promote a safe learning environment in the schools, but some schools have policies in place that deny students classroom learning about human sexual diversity.

In two separate incidents in different parts of the country, two youths, both 15 years old, hanged themselves after enduring anti-gay bullying at school. A news anchor at a CBS affiliate WCCO in Anoka, Minnesota, reported on Sept. 13 on the hanging death of 15-year old Justin Aaberg, a student in the Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota, who had come out as gay two years earlier and endured anti-gay harassment at school. The anchor said that there had been "a record number of suicides" in the school district, "mostly among gay students." The article cited a teacher--who commented anonymously for fear of reprisal--who said that he thought three of the students who had killed themselves were struggling with their sexuality.

"I actually thought he had the perfect life," said Aaberg’s mother, Tammy Aaberg, who discovered her son’s dead body on July 9. "I thought out of anybody I knew that he had the perfect life. But I guess he didn’t think so." The article said that Tammy Aaberg had become an advocate of changing the school system’s policy on sex ed, which states that, "Teaching about sexual orientation is not a part of the District adopted curriculum; rather, such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations."

But an unnamed lesbian alumna of the school district addressed the Anoka-Hennepin School Board at an Aug. 23 meeting, telling them that she had not had a family or church that she could turn to as a young gay person. "If you have students feeling like they’re isolated, like they have no one to turn to, and then they fill with self-hatred, are we surprised that we’re having suicides in the district by GLBT students? Something needs to happen."

Tammy Aaberg also addressed the school board, the report said, having found out from her son’s LGBT classmates that he had been bullied at school--and the classmates, also, had endured abuse. The teachers reportedly did nothing to intervene. The news article said that this was due to the sex ed policy, which school staff feared could be used against them if they came to the defense of gay and lesbian students who were being harassed. ""I’m asking you all to rewrite the policy in order to give teachers training in how to be more sensitive to GLBT students," Tammy Aaberg appealed to the school board.

"These kids, they just hate themselves. They literally feel like they want to die. So many kids are telling me this," Tammy Aaberg told the news station.

Next: School Forbids Discussion of Human Sexual Diversity



Comments

  • Ryan in Fl, 2010-09-28 14:04:05

    It’s 2010. This shouldn’t be happening anymore


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-28 14:08:38

    This story won’t go away. The parents don’t like the types to go run and hide. I think they’re more of the Judy Shepherd variety.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-28 14:09:19

    Don’t SEEM like the types. Anyway, I think they’re going to pursue this - I hope with the help of national gay organizations.


  • just a regular gay guy, 2010-09-28 14:32:26

    Let’s organize a day to wear pink in honor of all those who are bullied at school? I know I always stop it if I catch ear of it, but with more than 30 kids per class, somethings slip away. I am out to my coworkers but not my students. Frankly, it’s not an issue with them; it’s simply irrelevant to our teacher-to-student relationship. So, when should we do this and how do we get started? I know some kids participate in the Day of Silence. But I want to do something as an educator. Imagine if a kid saw one-tenth of all the teachers at school with pink on the same day! They’d ask questions and we would be able to do our job: educate them.


  • Milwaukeeguy, 2010-09-28 17:18:09

    I suggest we all send emails to this red neck school and tell them we are thankful our kids are not enrolled there. Big tough Texans can’t stand up to kid bullies.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-28 17:50:27

    We as a society are responsible for our kids protection and for the school not to have a strict enforced policy related to this bullying behavior is unacceptable. This type of behavior borders on HATE CRIMES.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-28 18:13:07

    This is all about fear. To me, not a suicide based on depresseion, but based on being scared and maybe feeling hopeless. Brought back unsettling memories and a few tears. Many reasons. The real reason I decided to comment: My friend and neighbor, Larry, growing up in North Oak Cliff in days long before OC (or anywhere else) became gay-friendly, took his own life. He shot himself in his backyard. Larry was almost 14 or maybe about to turn 14, I don’t recall. I know I was 13. That was 1971, summer between 9th grade at the junior high and 10th grade at the high school. I will never forget. I knew "why" Larry had been so scared of going to high school (we were supposed to start in a couple of weeks), maybe some of the other kids did as well but we never talked about it - those of us who have stayed in touch have not talked about it to this day. Never crossed my mind Larry would kill himself. Larry was scared, very scared and told me so, about what he thought would happen when he was around not only kids his age or younger like it had been at the junior high but worse fears about who knows what might happen when he was about to be around much older kids at the high school. To this day, I don’t know of any of us who told his parents or another adult about Larry and the teasing, although some of the teachers and coaches had to have been aware of it to some extent. Once again - fear. We were too scared to talk about "it", too scared that someone would point the finger at us, too scared our own blue collar families would call us fags or queers or "Liberace". I wish I had had the courage to tell someone, anyone what Larry had been going through as a 9th grader, before his death, or even after his death - I was in hindsight the person he thought of as his best friend, perhaps by default because I was not only one of his only friends but also one of the few kids who would try to defend him when he was teased (and risk being called a fag myself). I wasn’t courageous, just popular enough and I guess big enough to take the heat. Deep down, the real reason was that I "understood" and related to Larry in an unspoken manner. More fear - well before Larry’s death - but even more so afterwards - I remember feeling as if I needed to "get the hell out of Dodge". Back then, in the early 1970’s, to me, the only options appeared to be killing myself, running away -- or, what I did and many other good but frightend young boys back then did -- becoming the best dang Ward Cleaver that anyone could imagine (at least trying to be). Yep, I became a stereotyped Ward Cleaver (college, marriage, children, Baptist, suburbs), although I loved my wife and children more than I can describe I myself came dangerously close to suicide from time to time (fear again, this time fear of my own sexual orientation),... Finally, ended up coming out, not as a frightened and bullied young teenager but instead as a scared man in his early 40’s. Yes, still scared that I would be teased, bullied, discriminated against, etc. But, here it is 10 years later, and I obviously survived - and thrived - but only when I eventually stopped being scared. That was the key. I was grown up and I didn’t have to rely on anyone but myself to face the bullies (real or imagined). All that said, this article made me wonder if maybe having broken the silence about my friend Larry way back in the summer of 1971 might have made a difference not only for Larry but for the life of even one other teased or bullied child/teen. So, I hope that all of us can think of the young boy near Houston and the others mentioned in this article, think of people we’ve known, and maybe even think of ourselves at some level --- and stop being afraid of being gay and of being teased. Tell someone - or intervene yourself - if you see a person, of any age, who is being bullied, even if you think it will do no good. There’s no way to know whether it will help unless you try.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-28 20:46:52

    What I want to know is who the hell is raising these bullies? Their parents need to be held accountable as well.


  • xmikey97, 2010-09-28 21:47:28

    When someone like this boy gets bullied every day then the teachers and other people of authority in the school can’t help but notice whats going on with this boy and others just like him but they turn there heads like they do not see it happening. How many teenagers have to kill themselves before the school, school boards, teaches stop the bulling before it gets out of hand. I think it’s time to think of this type of bulling should be treated as a hate crime.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-28 22:51:00

    Children are so cruel because of the lack of education from their parents. A teacher can’t make your kid a real person, instead of a piece of sh*t s/he might grow in without proper parental attention. Sadly, most of families are like this. Be the victim gay, racial concern, too fat, too skinny, too tall, funny name, etc.. Only monsters who actually have family problems tease, and believe it or keep being dumb, it’s actually parents’ fault. Because they didn’t teach them to be kind. But when a child suffers from such sencelessness, her/his parents must become aware of who leads this bullying, who’s involved and firstly come through to these kids’ parents. If that won’t help, be serious, call the cops, even if not for real, but they must be punished for this behavior somehow. Othervise these offsprings will continue killing with words and will grow up into something terrible.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-28 23:08:38

    Also I think if you can’t push sex ed into school, then there must be a must take broad subject that teaches kids respect to others (and nature.) Since most parents didn’t think of the most important subject of life as crucial and indispensable. Which gives a child a fundament to a conscious life and mindset.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-28 23:24:10

    If you follow the links to the article, you’ll see several comments on the Houston Chronicle thread about this particular school. One girl describes in detail how she was taunted, chased around a class, begged the teacher to tell the bullies to stop - and the teacher bawled her out for disrupting the class. There are several such stories. so apparently this school is really bad and a very sad chicken has come home to roost with this poor kid’s suicide.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-29 08:53:25

    In this day and age with all the modern technology, don’t tell me this school didn’t know what was going on. And what about witnesses, what the hell is wrong with people who can see this and not do something about it. The people responsible for this should go to jail and there needs to be a lot more education about tolerance and bullying in the schools. This makes me sick and so very sad.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-29 10:42:45

    I just graduated from an East Tennessee high school, and not a day would pass where either I or one of my friends would have to deal with some kind of homophobic harrassment or bullying. And when we took it to the principle they would tell us that we need to go through the proper line of command. It’s wrong when you are teased for who you are and the people who are supposed to be there to help you...just don’t see LGBT youth as important. I’m openly gay, and at University but I still hear people being hateful, and it just makes me wonder how people can be so horrible and cause someone like this young man to do this to himself. How can they live with themselves knowing this happened? It’s really time to wake up people. Stop the hate.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-29 13:43:28

    Go shove some of your Wisconsin cheese up your ass, milwaukee guy. and dont cry to me with your hideous Wisconsin accent about it, i know you like how it feels.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-29 16:19:41

    (Talk to the police and find out what you need to document.) Always, always when dealing with schools & government, detail out what is happening, email it to them & yourself. Print out your copy of the email, and send Certified Mail to them. If it keeps on, Keep on documenting. Then you might advertise in the local paper & Craigslist for a lawyer and group of people with similar stories for a Class Action Lawsuit. My parents had to press charges with the police against bullies that were physically attacking my sisters.


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-29 16:33:05

    I remember me and my sisters being bullied in the 1970’s-early 1980’s, before Internet even. The only thing I think that made us targets is we "appeared to be shy & soft". I think bullying is wrong and should be punished. YES, document with police--The school will try to pretend it away, and we were teacher’s kids. Even so, I think it was an educational, toughening experience that was VERY helpful in the corporate & government world. We weren’t "Delicate Little Flowers" to be destroyed by the lawnmowers of Corporate BS. BUT it is very important to have supportive yet Drill-Sargent-ish parents who’d already prepared us for it. Our bullies over time have not done well in life.


  • Fairforall, 2010-09-29 23:15:55

    Its fuuny how religious folks want to argue that LGBT people are the way they are by choice and not born that way. LGBT people would not choose to practice something that causes them so much social harrassment if they felt as though there were an option better suited for them and an option that would also relieve all the social hell. That’s like telling a religious person that they’re naturally supposed to be atheists; only there’s no hell for the religious person, is there? Unless of course they practice placing judgement on God’s other childen. Hmmm, maybe their hell awaits them after all! So I ask all you bible thumpers - What would Jesus do?


  • Anonymous, 2010-09-30 20:03:57

    It is very disheartening what is going on with todays youth. Please teachers, parents and school administrators open your eyes it is easy to spot when a child begins to change and is crying out for help. Don’t let innocent children take their lives for fear of being different and to be bullied is a crime.


  • Anonymous, 2010-10-01 20:13:18

    This is so sad, and way too young to die, my heart goes out to his family and my thoughts and prayers are with you as well. I have a daughter who is 7 and in grade 2 and a son who is 5 and in grade primary, and the bouth of my kids are allways getting bullied every day as well and i allways fear that this is going to happen to them too, and the principal does nothing abought it and allways calles my kids a liar, and this is the reason that this kind of stuff happens and goes too far, is because the school dosent care enough to do the right things to help our children and it is wrong and sad : (


  • Anonymous, 2010-10-02 04:48:36

    My son is an all American boy, blonde hair, hazel eyes and a great kid. We relocated, due to my job and enrolled him in a new middle school. There were several Hispanics and blacks in his class, due to the zoning of the school. On the first day of school, without even getting to know my son, they started calling him a racist, just because he was white and didn’t play around in class. Then they started saying he was gay. Well, my son is very athletic and is far from being wimpy. He came home one day, extremely upset, because the kids’ behavior had worsened. Well, I went to the school and spoke with the law enforcement person assigned to the school - that’s who the school administrators sent me too, for some strange reason. I told him the situation and asked if they could have the teacher keep an eye on it, without letting on that my son had complained. I knew it would make the problem worse if he was labelled a "snitch". What did the school do? They called the boys to the office and told them about My son’s complaint. The school administrators and the cop seemed to think that since it was a white boy complaining of racism, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Well, the next day, they started on him again, right in front of the black teacher, who did nothing! This time they got in his face and threatened to find him after school. Well, that was it! I told my son to do what he had to do and if he felt threatened, to defend himself. The next day, one of them got in his face and intentionally spit in my son’s face as he was talking. That was the last straw, as my son knocked him over 4 rows of desks. One of the other boys decided he would jump in and my son gave him the same response. They broke it up and called the cop to the room, where they actually handcuffed my son and escorted him to the office. The other two boys were not handcuffed; instead, the were taken to the nurses station and treated as if they were just mugged on the street. They called me and told me to pick my son up and that he was probably going to be expelled. Well, my son is pretty bright. Before the incident started, he set his cell phone to record video, cause he wanted me to see what was going on. You couldn’t see much, but, you could hear the entire incident. Then, instead of apologizing and taking the appropriate action against the boys who started the whole thing, they were going to go after my son for recording the incident. Well, that was all I could stand, because I was on the verge of knocking the Principle across a desk or two. I withdrew both of my boys and placed them in a private school. That was the best move I have ever made. Private schools are so much better than public. The kids actually respect one another and they don’t teach to the slowest child in the class. I am contemplating filing a discrimination suit against the school and the Resource Officer. Believe it or not, they didn’t do anything to the boys that were harassing my son! So, it’s not just gays who are victims of bullying. Many times, as I have been told since, white kids who are environments where they are the minority are victims of racist bullying! I’m just proud of my son for standing up and defending himself! If more bullies got their teeth knocked out, it wouldn’t happen as often.


  • Anonymous, 2010-10-02 15:11:44

    there’s a rumor going around my high school that someone is forming like a posse and there gonna jump the kids and the kids parents responsible for this boys death. Many only a small handful of Hamilton kids actually end up going to are school when they get into high school but its really close and a lot of people feel that the people who should be taking care of this aren’t doing there job... i might join in on this little posse if rumors are true.


  • Anonymous, 2010-10-03 21:51:00

    This is a matter of which PARENTS should talk to their children about how bullying one another should not happen and that if it is happening to them they need to speak up so that the thought of suicide would not be in mind and so that bullying in schools do not happen at all..This should also be a huge discussion in school...TEACHER should always bring this topic into discussion so that the children would understand more and that they should not fear talking to someone before it is too late..As a kid in middle school I too was bullied but I always talk to my mom about it..They bullied me with words but I simply turned away and ignored them because I know who I am and I did not let anyone try to put me down with words I was strong even though it was hard to hear all the awful things they say about me..I just ignored them and they simply gave up..But in some cases where they do not stop..Don’t be afraid to tell anyone especially your PARENTS and TEACHERS..So that bullying can stop..But in reality PARENTS need to really discipline there children well and just simply teach them the importants of respect and love for all people..PARENTS should set a very good example..gay in my religion is not acceptable but I don’t hate nobody for who they are and what they are..I have friends that are gay and I love and support them very much because its there life and all I want is that they are happy..I support the gay community even though my religion does not..My motto is "Love everyone and stop the hate!!" SIMPLY STOP THE BULLYING!!! We are all people and we are unique in every way..No one should be forced to change who they are and what they are just cause society hates it..If it was that way society should be ashamed..We do not live in Utopia!! Society needs to get there shit together and change how we treat one another!! I’m sick and tired of shit like this happening because of HATE!! "STOP THE HATE APPRECIATE!!!"


  • Anonymous, 2010-10-05 10:26:39

    You cannot stop the hate no more that trying to stop racism. The children are to be covered by their parents and taught self-worth. If you have to take your child out of the school and home school, you want to protect his and pro-long his life. The parents must exercise their responsibility for their children. Proactive and not reactive.


  • Anonymous, 2011-10-14 23:35:22

    it so sad that this boy had to go kill himself for being gay but we need to get a law that stop this shit from going on so what are we going to do


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