I have written about the ongoing bullying problem in the nearby York County, Virginia, school division in the aftermath of the Memorial Day weekend suicide of 16-year-old Christian Taylor last year both here on Bilerico and on my personal blog here and here.
One of the problems is the apparent total indifference to well-being of all students in the ranks of the school administration.
The second and even larger problem is that Virginia's laws more or less absolve both the bullies persecuting other students and the indifferent and negligent school administrators. Only actual physical assault or utterly gross negligence will open the threshold for accountability of the bully and school administrators, respectively.
I have spoken a number of times with Christian's mother and the state of affairs is enough to breal one's heart.
But back to Christian's family eight months after his death. Given Christian's suicide, one would think that the York County schools would go out of their way to protect his surviving siblings from harassment and bullying. But sadly, such is not the case as is evidenced by this story on WVEC-TV 13 by a reporter friend, David Ham. Here are highlights from the print coverage followed by a WVEC-TV video clip (by the way, Christian's mom is a military wife whose husband is deployed overseas):
YORKTOWN--The mother of a teenager she said was driven to suicide from bullying, now says her stepson is now also being bullied in the same school system. Despite her son Christian Taylor's death last May, Lisa Williams says the York County School system is not doing enough to prevent bullying.
This week she said her stepson 14-year old William Juntti was bullied at Grafton Middle School for wearing black and white colored jeans. "[He] walked up to me and said you know everyone is calling you gay because your jeans are gay," said Juntti. "That's when he kind of shoulder shoved me into the wall and I was walking back to my desk and he shoulder shoved me back again."
Because she said she could not be reassured, she plans to pull William out of the school system. "I'm not willing to risk another child for this to happen to me again. I can't do that," said Williams.
As a parent myself, the school division's obscene disregard for Christian's siblings - and I suspect many other students as well - makes me furious. Every child deserves to be able to go to school without harassment be they gay, lesbian, black white, hispanic, Christian, Muslim or Hindu, etc. Is this simple right too much to ask for? I hope readers will widely disseminate this story and force York County to clean up its act if not for the right reason only so as to stop the negative publicity.