Another bullied gay teen commits suicide

During a month of tremendous strides for LGBT rights, Jadin Bell reminds us how far we still have to go

Topics: LGBT, Jadin Bell, Tyler Clementi, It Gets Better, Bullying, Same-sex marriage, Gay Marriage, Suicide,

Another bullied gay teen commits suicide

It’s a celebratory month for American LGBT rights. Marriage equality is becoming the norm in more and more states — with Rhode Island approving it just last week. After a deluge of bad publicity, the Boy Scouts are at long last making noises about admitting gay scouts. When New Jersey teenager Jacob Rudolph came out to his class while accepting an acting award, he was greeted with cheers and his speech went viral. Even famed former champion of “traditional” marriage David Blankenhorn is now proposing “a new conversation that brings together gays and lesbians who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same.” And on Jan. 21, Barack Obama became the first president to mention gay and lesbian rights in his inaugural address.

Yet in the midst of all the good news, we still have so much more to do, and so much hate to still overcome. We still have to fight hard, every day, so there are fewer tragedies like Jadin Bell. Bell, a 15-year-old high-school sophomore in La Grande, Ore., was taken off life support earlier this week after hanging himself on a playground structure at Central Elementary School. His family says that he had been bullied for being gay.

In a conversation with local news station KATU on Tuesday, family friend Bud Hill told reporters that Bell had been bullied both in person and online, and that he’d asked his parents to home-school him. The boy had recently communicated about the problem with school officials, who told KATU that they were in the process of an investigation when Bell hanged himself. “He was different,” Hill said, “and they tend to pick on the different ones.”

You Might Also Like

At a vigil last week, Bell was remembered by friends as an “amazing young man,” a kid who loved cheerleading and volunteering at the local assisted living home for seniors. His mother, meanwhile, had a pleading message for the school bullies. “The next time you are thinking of being unkind to someone,” she told the La Grande Observer, “think to yourself, ‘If that person was a member of your family, would you want them treated like that?’ Don’t treat them like that.”

So for all the strides we’re making, we need to remember that teenagers are still killing themselves because bigoted monsters are making their lives hell. Tyler Clementi. Seth Walsh. Kenneth WeishuhnJosh Pacheco, just last month. And families and friends are left shattered and grieving because we still live in a climate where bullying is too often not taken seriously enough, and where LGBT individuals are subject to institutionalized discrimination and flippant homophobia on a regular basis. It does get better, and a whole lot of things in this country have gotten better, but as long as kids are dying because hateful creeps are pushing them around, we have miles and miles to go. As Bud Hill told the La Grande Observer, “It should not have come to something like this.” Not for Bell. Not for any kid. Not again.

Mary Elizabeth Williams
Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    DAYA  
    Young Daya has yet to become entirely jaded, but she has the character's trademark skeptical pout down pat. And with a piece-of-work mother like Aleida -- who oscillates between jealousy and scorn for her creatively gifted daughter, chucking out the artwork she brings home from summer camp -- who can blame her?

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    MORELLO   
    With her marriage to prison penpal Vince Muccio, Lorna finally got to wear the white veil she has fantasized about since childhood (even if it was made of toilet paper).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CINDY   
    Cindy's embrace of Judaism makes sense when we see her childhood, lived under the fist of a terrifying father who preached a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity. As she put it: "I was raised in a church where I was told to believe and pray. And if I was bad, I’d go to hell."

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CAPUTO   
    Joey Caputo has always tried to be a good guy, whether it's offering to fight a disabled wrestler at a high school wrestling event or giving up his musical ambitions to raise another man's child. But trying to be a nice guy never exactly worked out for him -- which might explain why he decides to take the selfish route in the Season 3 finale.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    BOO   
    In one of the season's more moving flashbacks, we see a young Boo -- who rejected the traditional trappings of femininity from a young age -- clashing with her mother over what to wear. Later, she makes the decision not to visit her mother on her deathbed if it means pretending to be something she's not. As she puts it, "I refuse to be invisible, Daddy. Not for you, not for Mom, not for anybody.”

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    SOSO
    We still don't know what landed Brooke Soso in the slammer, but a late-season flashback suggests that some seriously overbearing parenting may have been the impetus for her downward spiral.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    POUSSEY
    We already know a little about Poussey's relationship with her military father, but this season we saw a softer side of the spunky fan-favorite, who still pines for the loving mom that she lost too young.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    PENNSATUCKY
    Pennsatucky had something of a redemption arc this season, and glimpses of her childhood only serve to increase viewer sympathy for the character, whose mother forced her to chug Mountain Dew outside the Social Security Administration office and stripped her of her sexual agency before she was even old enough to comprehend it.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    CHANG
    This season, we got an intense look at the teenage life of one of Litchfield's most isolated and underexplored inmates. Rebuffed and scorned by her suitor at an arranged marriage, the young Chinese immigrant stored up a grudge, and ultimately exacted a merciless revenge.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    HEALY
    It's difficult to sympathize with the racist, misogynist CO Sam Healy, but the snippets we get of his childhood -- raised by a mentally ill mother, vomited on by a homeless man he mistakes for Jesus when he runs to the church for help -- certainly help us understand him better.

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NORMA
    This season, we learned a lot about one of Litchfield's biggest enigmas, as we saw the roots of Norma's silence (a childhood stutter) and the reason for her incarceration (killing the oppressive cult leader she followed for decades).

    The 12 most incredible pint-size look-alikes in "Orange Is the New Black" season 3

    NICKI
    While Nicki's mother certainly isn't entirely to blame for her daughter's struggles with addiction, an early childhood flashback -- of an adorable young Nicki being rebuffed on Mother's Day -- certainly helps us understand the roots of Nicki's scarred psyche.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>