Michael Hamar

Anti-Gay Bullying: One Mother's Letter to President Obama

Filed By Michael Hamar | March 07, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: anti-gay bigotry, anti-gay bullying, Barack Obama, gay teen suicides, religious based discrimination, U. S. military

As The Advocate and other news outlets have reported, President Obama - who I often refer to as our faux fierce advocate in the White House - will be holding an anti-bullying conference on March 10, 2011. The Advocate notes that Melody Barnes, the chief domestic policy adviser, announced the conference last week on a call with reporters. She said that participants would have the opportunity to speak with President Obama and high-level administration representatives about bullying and ways to prevent it in their communities.

Not every parent who has lost a child to anti-gay bullying, however, will have an opportunity to speak with the President. One excluded parent is Alise Williams of Yorktown, Virginia, whose son Christian Taylor (pictured above) was driven to suicide by anti-gay bullying last Memorial Day weekend.

The irony is that Alise's husband is in the military - deployed overseas to protect the freedoms of American citizens - meanwhile, his stepson was bullied to death because of religious-based discrimination. She has shared her letter to President Obama with me.

Here are some highlights from Alise's letter to President Obama:

I am not going to call in a favor because my husband is in the Army, or because my son was a DOD dependant, because quite frankly while my son is precious to me and he lived as a military child, EACH and EVERY child who has been the victim of bullying is of utmost importance to myself, my family, and their parents. When each parent who's child took their life due to bullying has a birthday or anniversary of their death - whether it is 1 month, 6 months, or 10 years later - we parents who belong to this club we DIDN'T sign up for but just HAPPEN to belong to, support each other. We check in and we get concerned if we don't hear from them. When you lose a child it throws you into another world, and if you have other children it is 10 times worse because then you worry every day about them and their safety.

My husband was in Korea and asleep the day Christian took his life. He woke to me screaming into the answering machine at 4:30 AM Korea time,that Christian hung himself - you HAVE to come home, I cant do this alone.....

More recently, when William, my 14 year old was shoved up against the wall and called gay, I followed the school procedure to report it. Nothing happened AGAIN! Even though in the school division's OWN student code of conduct handbook, the punishment mandated was 1 to 10 days non-discretionary suspension. ... The Army is compassionately reassigning us to another state and school...

The only support the Government has given myself my kids and my husband is our unit in Korea who saw that we needed to be quickly reassigned away from here because the loss of even ONE child to bullycides is too much. I take a huge offense to your non-response when on last September FIVE kids died due to bullying...

This problem is going to continue to grow until you and your staff - and Congress - get real and realize that this is a very serious problem and it needs to be dealt with swiftly and in a timely manner. . . . . as I said before, I don't want special treatment because every child that we have lost is precious and the most special, loving caring souls we have lost.

On the 15th of March, I will go to the Airport around 10:00 AM and go to the gate and meet my soldier and bring him home to a house that once again we are packing up and moving from due to bullying - to protect our kids.

Respectfully Yours,
Alise Williams
Wife to SSG Andrew JunttiUS Army 1-38 Charlie Co
Camp Casey, Korea

Unfortunately, the York County Schools seem utterly indifferent to bullying when the victims are attacked because of their perceived sexual orientation. Sadly, that mindset is in keeping with the demands of "godly Christians" who want to have the right to abuse and denigrate others merely because they don not subscribe to twisted Christianist religious beliefs. It makes me sick and ought to make President Obama sick as well.

Would that it would cause him to actually do something other than give lip service.

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This just tears my heart out! To this day, I don't know how I survived it. Sure, "it gets better," but the memories still haunt me decades later.

ND Mitchell | March 8, 2011 9:55 AM

Please tell your story....

Rev. Dr. Ron Wrinkle | March 8, 2011 6:56 AM

My heart and eyes literally weep (this is hard to see with the blurry eyes) whenever I read of a parent who has lost a child due to bullying.

Too often school boards yield to the pressure of the vocal minority as they appear to represent a community's majority. My hope is that they can never rise to an office where they can legislate over a larger group and continue sit on their hands, doing nothing while evil grows.

The attack on President Obama seems harsh. He does yield to political pressure, as does any politician knowing the only way to get things done is through compromise.

President Obama was among the first to address gay, lesbian and questioning youth in the short videos "It Gets Better." His refusal to prosecute cases in DOMA was an extraordinary move, showing a boldness that was celebrated thru the San Francisco LGBT community.

The road is long and the struggle is hard. Personally, I would love to see bullying as a hate crime, but rationality tells me that this would be overkill.

We need to win this battle through love and compassion following the path set before us by Dr. Martin Luther King and those who chose positive love over negative hate.

These teen suicide victims are martyrs to our fight. Let's honor them and remember why they gave their lives.

Time to stop runnin' and letting these little shits/bullies ruin lives. If the schools won't take them out then maybe our kids who are being bullied need to take them out by any means necessary!

This kind of hatred of persons who are different must stop. Parents must seek to learn more about sexual orientation before rejecting their children. Schools must make certain that no children or teachers make denigrating comments about students who are gay or perceived to be. And churches must cease allowing their pastors to condemn from the pulpit. The home, the school and the church should be safe places where those questioning their sexuality can turn without facing rejection and condemnation. These institutions cannot be accomplices in the behaviors that drive these kids to end their lives.

Gay/Straight Alliances are needed in ALL schools. School children seem never too young to scream epithets at classmates. PTAs need to deal with this matter on a continuing basis. Churches need to quit doing so much pontificating and, instead, seek to build better methods of overcoming and transforming pain and suffering and death, not aiding in inflicting them. I believe that is a true mission of the church.

When will the hatred stop?