Latest Teen Suicide underscores need for Idaho’s Anti-Bullying Bill

14-year-old Phillip Parker,”was known as the boy who told everyone they’re beautiful. ” The Gordonsville, Tennessee teen, who was openly gay, took his life last Friday afternoon.

The boy’s grandfather, Paul Harris, told News Channel 5-TV over the weekend that,”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.”

WSMV.COM reports that,”Phillip’s family said they reported their concerns over their son’s bullying to Gordonsville High School on multiple occasions, but the bullying by a group of students just got worse.”

Now the Parkers are seeking answers from school leaders who apparently did little to stop the harassment.

Sadly, the news of Parker’s death swept through the LGBTQIA media on Monday which also marked the kick off to No Name-Calling Week.

According to the Gay, Lesbian and  Straight Education Network (GLSEN), No Name-Calling Week was inspired by a young adult novel entitled “The Misfits” by popular author, James Howe. The book tells the story of four best friends trying to survive the seventh grade in the face of all too frequent taunts based on their weight, height, intelligence, and sexual orientation/gender expression.

“The project seeks to focus national attention on the problem of name-calling in schools, and to provide students and educators with the tools and inspiration to launch an ongoing dialogue about ways to eliminate name-calling in their communities,” says a website devoted to the week.

Parker is the third  known gay teen in the U.S. to take his life due to bullying and harassment in less than a month.

Particularly disturbing in his case was the apparent lack of  school intervention.  According to groups like GLSEN, many schools may be unfamiliar with the resources available to educators to help combat the bullying epidemic.

According to a study released last week, more than 75% of students in the 3rd to 6th grade report that students at their school are called names, made fun of or bullied with at least some regularity.

Here in Idaho, a bill that would require school officials to intervene in cases of student harassment and bullying was introduced to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

The bill, presented by the The Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho, would require individual schools to set specific policies for dealing with which a student  harasses, intimidates or bullies their classmates.

(If you or someone you know needs help or is considering suicide you owe it to yourself to visit The Trevor Project’s website or call them at 1-866-488-7386. In the U.S. you can also call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit stopbullying.govYou can also visit Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) website for more resources.)

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