Elementary school should be a place where children feel safe to express themselves and start to figure out who they are as individuals. It should not be a place that fosters homophobia.
Jamel Myles, a nine-year-old boy from Denver, committed suicide a few days after sharing with his classmates that he was gay.
The proper response to his brave decision to come out would be to show support and compassion, but instead, he was met with bullies. Leia Pierce, Jamel's mother, explained that the same children that used to bully her son last year only bullied him even more once he came out.
Jamel first came out to his mother over the summer and her reaction was perfect. She saw that he was scared as he told her he was gay, and she reassured him and told him that she still loved him. Jamel then gained confidence and decided that he wanted to come out to his classmates at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School. Pierce stated,
"He went to school and said he was going tell people he's gay because he's proud of himself."
That is exactly how he should feel about himself, but the feeling was short-lived because his classmates told him to kill himself.
He was only at school for four days and the bullying he experienced in that time frame was enough for him to feel like ending his life was the only option.
Pierce feels that the parents of the children that bullied Jamel are responsible. She said,
"I think the parent should be held (accountable) because obviously the parents are either teaching them to be like that, or they're treating them like that."
I completely agree with Pierce, because children are naturally accepting people. Jamel's classmates must have thought that it was okay to bully him because they were being exposed to that kind of hatred at home. It does not excuse their actions, it just means that they are not the only ones at fault.
It is disheartening to know that as a parent, you can do everything right and give love to your children if they come out to you, but your positive actions might not be enough if they are faced with bullies at school. The parents of those children should be ashamed of themselves because their hatred for gay people caused the death of a nine-year-old boy. It is despicable to use your children as a means to spread your hateful agenda. It is a parent's job to teach their children to be kind and accepting and mold them into the best possible people they can be. Teaching your children to be homophobic is the exact opposite of nurturing them.
I hope that Jamel's death can serve as a lesson to those who believe that they are justified in teaching their children to hate gay people. If your ideologies make you believe that driving a gay child to suicide is okay, then you are a monster.