Wendy Walsh’s son Seth Walsh committed suicide in September of 2010. Seth left behind a note to his family once again documenting the anti-gay torture he experienced in school. In this recent news video she is introducing the Student Non-Discrimination Act with Senator Al Franken.
Tammy Aaberg’ son Justin Auberg was 15 years old when he committed suicide in July of 2010. She first learned of his sexual orientation and abuse at school when he harmed himself a few years earlier. In this news video she tells the story of his short life and death.
Karen Collao’s big brother Anthony Callao was celebrating his 18th birthday this month when five other mothers’ sons beat him to death shouting anti-gay slurs. Anthony was not gay… his friends hosting his party were. NBC New York has video footage of Karen Collao talking about her brother at that recent memorial.
Speakers at the candlelit vigil included city council speaker Christine Quinn, the victim’s younger sister Karen Collao, and Diego Sucuzhanay. His brother Jose died in 2008 as a result of a beating in Brooklyn by attackers who perceived him to be gay. (source)
Diego Sucuzhanay can also be seen speaking at Anthony’s vigil where he explains that he too lost a brother to gay hate. His brother Jose was killed in a similar anti-gay hate crime two years ago.
The pending Student Non-Discrimination Act recently reintroduced in the U.S. House by Jared Polis and in the U.S. Senate by Al Frankin is one attempt to stave off this clear pattern of targeted violence and loss of life.
Modeled after Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Student Non-Discrimination Act would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination in public schools against LGBT students. Additionally, the measure would also forbid schools from discriminating against based on the sexual orientation and gender identity and prohibit them from ignoring harassing behavior.
When Wendy Walsh and Tammy Aaberg demand we strive for a civil society in which our children can go to school without being beaten and tormented I am reminded of a trail of mothers who have lost their children to this perpetual gendered and anti-gay violence.
From last years pleas from Sirdeaner L. Walker, the mother of eleven year old Carl Walker-Hoover who took his life in April of 2009, to Judy Shepard who stood over President Obama as he signed the Federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act a full 11 years after her son Matthew was violently murdered because he was gay…
So many losses and still I am confident we will be forced to continue to ‘debate’ the wisdom of this Non-Discrimination Act with the religious right who are an ever-present force in protecting the rights of people to castigate, insult, and demean LGBTQ youth.
The body count, the broken bones, the incarcerations, these are real things in the real world. Just ask the mothers of all of these lost boys and they’ll tell you. We should expect so much more from our society.