Main | Tuesday, September 14, 2010

INDIANA: 15 Year-Old Boy Commits Suicide Over Anti-Gay Bullying

Another dead victim of anti-gay bullying, this time in Indiana.
He was a teenager who didn't quite fit in. His classmates said Billy Lucas was bullied for being different. The 15-year-old never told anyone he was gay but students at Greensburg High School thought he was and so they picked on him. "People would call him 'fag' and stuff like that, just make fun of him because he's different basically," said student Dillen Swango. Students told Fox59 News it was common knowledge that children bullied Billy and from what they said, it was getting worse. Last Thursday, Billy's mother found him dead inside their barn. He had hung himself. Students said on that same day, some students told Billy to kill himself. "They said stuff like 'you're like a piece of crap' and 'you don't deserve to live.' Different things like that. Talked about how he was gay or whatever," said Swango.
School administrators claim to have had no knowledge of the bullying, despite many students saying that they were aware of Billy's torment. A memorial Facebook page for Billy can be found here. Indiana does not include gay youth in its anti-bullying laws, no doubt thanks to repulsive Christianist groups like Focus On The Family.

Charles Robbins, executive director of the Trevor Project, responds to Billy Lucas' death.
Currently, there is no national standard to protect all of our children from bullying and harassment at school. Yet, we know that as many as 1 in 10 sexual minority youth have been physically assaulted at school, and that when youth are threatened or get into fights, or have property stolen at school, their risk of attempting suicide more than doubles. That is why The Trevor Project supports fully inclusive federal legislation, like the Safe Schools Improvement Act currently under consideration in the Senate, to offer the protections all of our children need from torment and ridicule at school, regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Only with an enforceable national standard that offers resources and support to educators and staff, no matter the size of a school district, will we be able to prevent future tragedies like Greensburg High School has experienced. The death of Billy Lucas is a tragedy, and one that might have been prevented if his school district had the support of a fully inclusive anti-harassment and anti-bullying law.
UPDATE: JMG reader Andy sends us the below news clip and notes that Billy's principal seems to blame him for his own bullying. "Sometimes he created an atmosphere around him like a little tornado, you know, because he went around doing things that made dust fly." Starts at the 2:00 mark.

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