Yes. If it was my kid this bullshit wouldn't last one second after i was informed. Either get the administrators in line, or get the kid the fuck out. Then huuuuge lawsuit. I will never understand why parents allow their children to be tormented by their peers.

Another option is give the kid a baseball bat, but that all depends on his willingness to cave in the skulls of a few bigots. I hear that bully's always back down when you cave their skulls in with a baseball bat.
I've asked myself why the hell any of those poor kids were still in schools where they were being bullied with almost every report of a gay kid committing suicide due to bullying. I just...don't get how you could leave your kid in that kind of situation, no matter what you had to do to stop it. I don't even want to think what my 17yo's life would have been like if we'd left her in school.
Sing it brother!
My heart breaks for you too, Phillip Parker.

Rest In Peace, kiddo.

Sick the ACLU on them, I say. The bullies and the school, that is, not the parents.

I'd like to say to anyone who knows that a gay student is being bullied: tell someone!! Tell the gay student's parent or any
other caring adult!! Tell SOMEONE, in order for that student to be supported -- immediately!

Keep in mind that even the most accepting, loving and tuned in parent of a gay student may have NO CLUE their child is suffering like this. Tell someone -- and make sure something is done to help them. It could save a life. Thank you!!
@6 I'm curious why you say "not the parents." And I notice that Dan does not mention suing the parents or the kids (only "sue the school"). Is there a legal rationale behind this, or is it just a difference of opinion on who should ultimately be held responsible?
@10 - You can only sue if something illegal occured. In many states -- Tennessee being one of them -- bullying children to a suicidal death is not a crime.
And by "parents" I'm assuming we're talking about the parents of the bullies, not the parents of the bullied, so let me know if I'm completely out of context here.
Parents leave their kids in these situations because they don't want to give the message it's appropriate to run from problems. That's the stance my parents took way back when, when in fact they should have gotten to the bottom of things pronto, then yanked me out of the situation if no improvements were made. But that was 1972....
It's tough being a parent to know what the right thing actually is at any given moment in time. Thanks for posting this Dan. Keep up the good fight.
@12, I believe @6 was referring to the parents of the bullied child(ren).

@11 Ah yes, very clumsy of me to forget that in much of the country, state law leans toward protecting these assholes.
@3, As a parent of two young kids (3 and 1), I often find myself fighting an internal battle: how much do you protect your kids? You don't want to be the kind of helicopter parent that has 25 year-old "kids" that are incapable of taking care of themselves; on the other hand, you never want to see your kids get hurt. Thankfully, my decisions have been easy so far (i.e. how much shit can I let them they get away with on the jungle before the other parents will call protective services on my ass); but I know it only gets harder.

That said, while I definitely agree with DS that the parents need to step in when the bullying starts getting bad; I can sort of understand the decision by a parent to stay out of it. The "if it doesn't kill 'em, it will only make them stronger" mindset does have some legs to stand on, until, of actually kills them. That's what makes these stories so heartbreaking: the ability to prevent them. So I don't have an easy answer. When your kid's actual life is in jeopardy, which it clearly can be when bullying is at, issue, err on the side of caution. Being a parent simultaneously sucks and is one of the coolest things ever.
@2: My hard-of-hearing sister did that to a boy on the bus that teased us when we were in, like, 1st and 3rd grade. The principle brought me into the office and I told her I was proud of my sister!
@17 Awesome!
It is really hard, I think, for some parents - people maybe older than 25, in many cases - to fully understand how much more intense bullying seems to kids now, as opposed to when they were in school. I was hassled pretty badly in high school. & my home life was hard. But I wasn't getting bullied, at home. That stopped, until I went back to school the next day, etc.

These days, kids leave school & the bullying doesn't stop. They get anonymous texts on their phones & hassled on their FB's. It's a difficult time to be a parent.

Also, parents, I know we wanna give our kids some privacy & individuality, but be involved. Even though it's difficult w/ having to work, etc. Know your kids' friends & teachers.

Rest in peace, Phillip; you got the rock off your chest, but not in time to breathe. My condolences to your family.

Man, I had to leave Towleroad because of the comments there. Thank you Stranger readers, for not being horrible assholes about gay teen suicide.
What @1 said
So fucking sad.
Quoth dave1976 @16:
That said, while I definitely agree with DS that the parents need to step in when the bullying starts getting bad; I can sort of understand the decision by a parent to stay out of it. The "if it doesn't kill 'em, it will only make them stronger" mindset does have some legs to stand on, until, of actually kills them. That's what makes these stories so heartbreaking: the ability to prevent them.
Yeah, I think there's a bit of 20/20 hindsight going on here. My guess is that if someone told Gena Parker last week that her son was about to kill himself, she would have immediately pulled him out of school and moved to another school district. As far as she knew, "he was happy" despite the bullying. She likely had no idea that it had affected him as much as it had.
Problem is 2 that the instant a bullied kid stands up for themselves the school will drop the hammer on them. It doesn't matter that the bullies are well known for their bad behavior, it doesn't matter that the school knows there have been problems. The instant you stand up for yourself you will be punished.

At least that's what happened to me.
sorry to burst your happy hippie bubble but parents in the south don't give a shit about their gay kid and are perfectly happy when they die or leave so the family doesn't have to deal with the embarrassment. None of these people will move because they can't stand to leave their hateful churches where they drag the poor gay kids every week 9if they are lucky, twice or three times a week if not) to be tortured further. The parents are part of the bulling, they are only crying boo-hoo to get on tv.
I think this is coming dangerously close to blaming two people who, as far as I know, loved their son for who he was, stood up for him in public amd tried to protect him. Two people who are having the nightmare that every parent dreads.
I say this as a lesbian and the mother of a 15 year old out gay son.
These parents were in Tennesee. They seem to have tried very hard. I understand that Dan is speaking to other parents but, today, my heart weeps not just for their boy but for them. Two people doing what we as parents try to do. The best with what we have.
@10-that's just not true. A civil suit does not require an underlying crime to be viable. You simply have to be able to demonstrate the elements of the particular tort, i.e. assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, etc.

@Dan-while I agree with you in principal, the reality is that "just move or ship the kid off" isn't always a viable option, particularly in this economy. The point of view implied by your last line-that a parent who doesn't move or send the kid elsewhere values the convenience of staying put over the child's life-veers uncomfortably close to those myopic people who tell OWS protesters to "get a job." If a parent has no job prospects elsewhere, or has no family in a friendlier community willing to take the child in, that doesn't mean that protecting their child isn't a priority. Keeping the entire family fed and sheltered has to be a priority too. I'm sure you don't mean to suggest otherwise, but there's something in the tone of your post that makes me a little squeamish.
I honestly think the parents who let the bullying go on are secretly hoping it will "straighten the kid out" or the child deserves it for acting like a sissy. I believe if the kid was getting adequate support at home they probably wouldn't kill themselves. More than likely they're just like that God-awful woman in "Prayers For Bobby" who bullied their kid in Jesus name. They'll feel bad afterward and maybe have an epiphany like Mary Griffith but a majority will probably be secretly glad they no longer have to deal with their gay kid. I've known plenty of bigots who'd rather have a dead kid than a gay one.
Having a transgendered son, I think parents of gay kids also fail to recognize that the stigma and internalization of the bullying is only 100x worse for LGBT kids. Being "different" already starts them out feeling more isolated, less socially supported in any way, and even more like something is "wrong" with them.

I'm 100% supportive of my son, and have helped him identify as male even when at his age he wouldn't have the power to do so. I was raised by two gay dads and am openly bisexual. He has ALL the support, love and acceptance in the world. And my son is STILL very sensitive and easy to become depressed and overwhelmed by his being "other than."

It's simply not a "normal" bullying situation in any way.

Amen, brother! Phillip Parker's suicide hurt so much because all I saw were comments like: "What a shame." or "Sad". It's not fucking sad. It's INTOLERABLE! We're getting used to these suicides. We're getting complacent as we wait for the next one. Schools and administrators are, at worst, killing our kids. At best, they're standing by and watching it happen. Get involved. Make a lot of noise. Do whatever you have to do to prevent the next one, whether it's your kid, or someone else's.
I don't blame the parents.

But, hopefully it's a wake up call for all parents of bullied kids.

Get them the fuck out of the situation. Even if you're poor and it's tough to move, there are solutions. Find the closest town/school district that has a tough anti bullying policy or even programs for LGBTQ kids. It doesn't mean you have to move to the "Big City"...many liberal arts college towns tend to be more progressive and offer schools with a safer environment for kids.
How wonderfully Liberal to always be able to blame someone else when things don't turn out like we hope.....
This is sick. Phillip Parker deserved better than this. He deserved the chance to be a kid and to grow up to be an adult and have a life of his own. Every kid deserves this. His parents should never have known what it was like to bury a child. No parent should. I don't think there are words to express the sorrow and sadness of this to the parents.

The void of common sense is stupifying. Idiot politicians passing dumb laws that trap children in hell. Crazy rabid voters or lazy apathetic voters who elect these idiots. Forget their beliefs, at this point who cares. Results matter. Another child is dead. Isn't that enough?

This is a big deal. It shouldn't have happened. Period. No exceptions. We are all screaming about this. The question is when are we going to mean it? What is it going to take to stop?
My nightmare is to be blindsided by something like this with any of my four kids.
In my opinion the kids who did the actual bullying, while they might not be legally liable, should be exposed - at least until they're genuinally sorry for what they've done. Likewise the school principal, and so on. They should have to live with their neighbours etc knowing what they did.
There should be a site that lists every kid who is bullied to death- regardless of orientation- so everyone can the extent this is happening. Whenever some bigot or school official claims it's not a problem point them to the numbers, with names, photos and full details of the child's death. These victims need to be seen not just as social/political fallout but as full human beings who died because of our inability to handle this crisis.

Dan is pointing this out as best he can but we all need to shame the folks who did nothing.
This is an interesting departure from "It Gets Better", and I think it's far better advice. More like "It gets better... anywhere far away from the hell hole you live in now."
I'm straight and I don't ever plan to have children but as a kid I was bullied and tormented throughout my childhood. I was molested and beaten by my father, outed him to my school guidance counselor when I was 11 and the local newspaper ran his arrest in their paper, after which, I spent a year being asked how I liked banging my dad. This was after years of being bullied simply for being a weird kid (in no small part because I was being molested by my father since the age of 6.) I don't know the torment of being a gay child but I had my brush with bullying and I spent years feeling suicidal before attempting (and obviously failing) to take my life at the age of 14.

I'll say this in defense of the parents, many of us who are bullied don't make as fine a point of it to our parents as we could. I certainly never told my mom how bad I had it at school and why I was so miserable and I definitely didn't tell her about my desire to take my life.

Additionally, in defense of parents of bullied children, there are few people, at least these days, who have the option to move, or have the resources and time to home school. My mom was a single parent after my dad's arrest, and was working full time. There is no chance she could have home schooled me if I had wanted her to and I honestly don't think I would have wanted her to. When I tried to take my life, I was already attending a private school, instead of going to the public school I'd been attending with all the bullying. Guess what? Kids can be assholes and you can feel like an outcast almost anywhere. I doubt every parent of gay children can afford to move to San Francisco, New York City or other liberal areas of the country, but even if they did, that wouldn't necessarily make everything better.

All this is to say that I'm 100% for doing everything you can for a child, but let's be sure to put the onus where it belongs. The parents of this child probably had no idea the extent of their child's pain and implying that this is their fault for not uprooting their entire lives to move to another school, another state, or take on homeschooling, seems to be asking a lot. I get the point. If you see warning signs, don't ignore them, but let's not focus on the parents here. It sounds like they were loving and supportive as best they could be.
Funny how Dan is saying this after all of his previous comments about how dangerous homeschooling is.

It is very unfortunate that moving is the only option most parents have if they want to send their child to another school. Many parents do not have the resources to move or to homeschool their kids. If we had a school voucher system in this country this would be much less of a problem.
Thanks again, Dan, for shining light onto these poor kids who need to not be forgotten and jolt us into changes. However, why was your advice just addressed to "straight parents"? While it's true that gay parents can often empathize more directly with what it's like to be bullied, I've seen a couple of examples of gay parents who believe that in the intervening 30 years, things have gotten much "better" for gay youth, and may perhaps be a little blasse. So your words are a spot-on reminder for ALL parents of LGBT (or perceived as such) kids!

And man oh man, I don't think it's gotten easier to be a kid in this day and age - not gay, straight, black, white, male, female, or otherwise. I'm 45 and I would NOT want to go through childhood again, not back in the 70s and 80s when I did it the first time, and sure as HELL not now.
As a mother of three young children, my husband and I have spoken about what we would do if one of our kids was gay, and being bullied. This was our exact thought! Get them the fuck out of there! I don't get why parents let their gay kids be bullied and be victims! Even if they're gay, it's your entrinsic duty to protect them at all costs! All costs. I don't get why parents feel this duty stops if their child is gay.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.