The devastated mother of a 9-year-old child who came out as gay says her son killed himself after he was bullied at school.
A heartbroken Leia Pierce from Denver told KDVR-TV that her son, Jamel Myles, had recently told her: “Mom I’m gay.”
She said: “And I thought he was playing, so I looked back because I was driving, and he was all curled up, so scared. And I said, I still love you.” The youngster, who she described as “her sunshine”, also told her that he wanted to dress in more feminine clothes.
The mom revealed that Jamel then decided to be open with his classmates when he started school, last week Monday. “He went to school and said he was gonna tell people he’s gay because he’s proud of himself,” she said.
However, it appears that the response was not a positive one and, just four days later, on Thursday, Leia found the young boy’s body in their home.
“Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” she said. “My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself. I’m just sad he didn’t come to me. I’m so upset that he thought that was his option.”
Leia is sharing her painful story in the hope that it will highlight the devastating impact of bullying.
According to a 2016 Love Not Hate report, 56% of LGBT South Africans surveyed said they’d experienced discrimination based on their LGBT status at school, with the most common form of abuse being verbal insults.
Last month, we reported that Matthew Joash David, a 17-year-old Durban teenager, was found hanging by his mother after he was allegedly bullied and called gay and a pervert by his school principal. While his family does not believe that David was gay, the incident highlights the social stigma surrounding being LGBTQ that exists in schools, even amongst teachers.
A transgender teen also recently told Mambaonline that she was barred from her school’s Women’s Day event because she did “not have the suitable body parts” to identify as a woman.