On Friday, January 20th, a gay fourteen year old young man named Phillip Parker hung himself in Gordonsville, Tennessee. Phillip’s parents said they reported the bullying to the high school, but their son’s persecution only continued to the point he felt he could no longer go on. This tragedy comes less than two months after another Middle Tennessee high school student, Jacob Rogers, was taunted by classmates about his sexuality until he also took his own life.
A backdrop to these heartbreaking stories is the Tennessee House of Representatives preoccupation with trying to legislate the state straight. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill (HB229) limits all sexually related instruction to “natural human reproductive science” through the eighth grade. The intent of this bill is not to allow any mention of “gay” in schools, which would presumably include speaking out against bullying gay teens such as Phillip. It is as if we don’t talk about homosexuality, it won’t occur to young people to become gay. (This bill is currently being discussed in subcommittee). (more…)