Phillip Parker, a 14-year-old teenager from Gordonsville, Tennessee in the United States committed suicide last week, apparently as the result of anti-gay bullying at his school.
Speaking to News Channel 5, Philip’s grandfather Paul Harris said, “Because he was gay, he got mistreated physically, mentally by several people out there at the school, and I am very resentful as a result of it”.
The teen’s parents found his body last week Friday. Minutes later they found a handwritten note in his trash can that read “please help me mom”. The cause of death has not be released to the media.
The boy’s family members said that they had been aware of some of the bullying and had reported it to Gordonsville High School with little effect. However, they only realised the extent of the abuse after the teen’s death.
“After he did what he did, we found out a lot that we didn’t know and there is a lot of bullying that goes on at the school,” Philip’s mother Gena Parker told News Channel 5.
In the past few years the number of gay teenagers who have committed suicide as the result of bullying in schools has increased in the U.S. with parents saying that school authorities are failing to protect their children.
People around the world have expressed their support for the family on Facebook and condemned those who bullied Phillip.
“As a parent, a gay person, a Tennessean, and a humanitarian, I am horrified by the lack of compassion in the young people who persecuted him. My heart goes out to his family,” said one commentator on Facebook.
The Tennessee Equality Project will host a Candlelight Vigil in memory of Phillip parker and all victims of bullying this Thursday at Cookeville Courthouse Square.
The organisation will also use the event to protest against a pending Tennessee bill dubbed the ‘don’t say gay bill’ which will bar teachers discussing homosexuality with students below the ninth grade (around 14 years of age) in Tennessee. The bill has already been passed by the state Senate and is expected to go before the House shortly.
Philip’s death is the second gay teen suicide in two months in Tennessee, with teen Jacob Rogers killing himself in December after years of anti-gay bullying.