Ed. Dept. begins to investigate bully schools

Timothy Kincaid

December 21st, 2010

For years Seth Walsh was bullied. For years his mother tried to get the Tehachapi Unified School District to protect him. Finally, in September Seth could take it no more and ended his life.

And, in response, Federal education officials are looking into the circumstances leading to Seth’s death. (Press-Enterprise).

The probe was launched in response to a complaint from Seth Walsh’s mother that Tehachapi Unified School District employees failed to adequately address the years of bullying that preceded her son’s death last Sept. 28, spokesman Justin Hamilton said.

Seth’s mother Wendy Walsh said U.S. Department of Education investigators spent two days in Tehachapi last week interviewing students, teachers and administrators. She said she contacted them when her son, who hanged himself from a backyard tree on Sept. 19, was still hospitalized in a coma.

The school may be among the first to discover that America is sick of reading about children being bullied to death and that old “boys will be boys” attitudes can no longer cover incompetence, callousness, or tolerance of anti-gay bullying.

In late October, the Education Department’s civil rights division responded by reminding school districts and universities they could face administrative penalties and even lose federal funding if they fail to take concrete steps to counter anti-gay harassment about which they knew or “reasonably should have known.”

I think few doubt that the Tehachapi Unified School District reasonably should have known that their campuses were torture to students who are gay or perceived to be gay.

Mana

December 21st, 2010

I’d love to hear from some current LGBTQ Tehachapi students about the district’s social climate.

But then, who listens to kids?

David Foreman

December 21st, 2010

If kids were bullied like this for their ethnicity, religion, or almost anything else, it would not have been tolerated. Bullying for any of those reasons should not, of course, be accepted. But bullying of GLBT students (or those perceived so) has been ignored. This in not just a sad commentary on our schools. It is a sad commentary on our society.
Yes, I’m glad something is finally being done. It still sickens me that it’s taken so long.

Priya Lynn

December 22nd, 2010

David, I’m not sure something is being done, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if they were just going through the motions.

Mihangel apYrs

December 22nd, 2010

Priya, empty gestures are the first defence – it takes work to actually DO anything.

But, keep on nagging, enlisting allies – especially moderate Xians, providing safe places/advice lines, hols politicians at all levels to account. Encourage parents to accept if not embrace their children’s sexuality (few prefer a dead queer kid to a live one). And hope for change.

We’ve been fighting and slowly winning for decades – all my adult life. We will succeed because ultimately people tend not to hate firends and family: it’s easy to hate “the other”

Cooner

December 23rd, 2010

I did a quick web search on Tehachapi and noticed they are just now forming a PFLAG chapter there … Hopefully that will prove helpful for the kids and families, and perhaps be able to exert pressure as necessary on the school district and education department.

http://www.tehachapinews.com/content/pflag-organizing-tehachapi/32916

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