Cody J. Barker, 17, of Shiocton, Wis., took his life on Sept. 13. Barker attended Shiocton High School, where he was active in choir. In August he attended a seminar and planned to start a gay/straight alliance at his school. He held a job at Fleet Farm in Appleton.

Maria Peeples, Barker’s peer mentor through GSA for Safe Schools, said he was a passionate activist for all students, especially those, “targeted or ostracized for their sexual orientation or their gender identity and expression... He really cared about making schools a safe place for students. That wasn’t always his own experience with school.”

According to a Web posting, Baker loved history, James Bond movies and Lady Gaga. He was described as an “extremely selfless” young man who enjoyed spending time with his friends, tending his rose plants, biking and reading.

A reader in Wisconsin who knew Cody writes...

I recently viewed your It Gets Better You Tube video you made with Terry. I was immediately touched by it and know it must resonate with so many youth.

Here in the Fox Valley—Appleton, Wisconsin, and surrounding cities—we have been touched by too many recent LGBT teen suicides. Most recently Cody Barker. We have a great organization that I work with in Appleton called Harmony Cafe. They have a weekly support group for gay teens and Cody was one of these teens. On Monday another gay teen attempted suicide. In talking with other out LGBT leadership here in the Valley we were hoping to get a message to youth that adults from here in the Fox Valley have made it out and it does get better. Then I saw your video. I am hoping we can do a similar project for the Fox Valley LGBT youth but with a video using a number of LGBT couples right here in Appleton, perhaps from area schools. I know many of us who have similar stories.

For more about me, you can check out a recent article also in the Gazette which talks about my program being at risk to be cut.