Following his death classmates and friends reported that he was bullied and harassed as a gay teen.
But for almost two months the important adults in Lance’s world have offered nothing but denial and shaming of those who wanted to talk about Lance’s suicide, about anti-gay harassment in his school, and about the social isolation a gay teen experienced that may have driven him to suicide.
Lance’s father, the local newspaper, and the school administration would have none of that claiming instead that Lance had died from natural causes. And all three parties offered a big SHAME ON YOU to anyone young or old who wanted to even consider the nasty homophobic comments from Lance’s facebook page or question how anti-gay harassment might have impacted his short life.
Then yesterday the coroner’s autopsy confirmed Lance committed suicide. Cue the deafening silence of these same formerly chatty role models and child advocates.
Timothy Kincade at Box Turtle Bulletin has a detailed story on the silence and revisionist history of Lance’s life and death here.
I can’t help but recall how Bobby Griffith’s mother Mary Griffith was only able to face her own anti-gay demons after her son’s suicide. And of course the story of Lance’s dad reminds me how not too long ago a study was released on the difference family acceptance or conversely family rejection make in the lives of LGBTQ youth.
I certainly hope this Minnesota school district steps up and takes action to address this crisis and to educate the community – the silence emanating from my childhood home state is starting to hurt my ears.
Rest in peace Lance.
And everyone else please remember The Trevor Project is out there, as are other resources in times of crisis. Pass it on.