'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Death of Seth Walsh (Part 1) 

Fifty or sixty years from now, will the public consider these suicides as comparable to the lynchings of African Americans?

No charges will be pressed against the children who bullied Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old Californian who died this week after injuries sustained in a suicide attempt, which was reportedly the result of cruel treatment over his perceived sexual orientation.

Several of the kids that we talked to broke down into tears, Jeff Kermode, Tehachapi, Calif., police chief, told NBC affiliate KGET. They had never expected an outcome such as this.

Dan Savage asserts that the abuse of Walsh was severe:

Seth Walsh is the 13-year-old boy who attempted suicide last week after enduring years of bullying at the hands of his classmates and peers in Tehachapi, California. Seth was being home schooled because the abuse at his middle school was so severe. But the bullies didn't relent: they harassed Seth at his home, on the street, in parks.

Given that the family is emotionally traumatized, and has understandably asked for privacy, and that the community seems more interested in diminishing the situation, as shown by the remarks of the Tehachapi police chief, we may never know the extent of the bullying experienced by Walsh. But the fact that he was being home schooled, as also reported by KGET 17 in Bakersfield, suggests that it was pretty bad.

In that report, Susan Ortega, the principal of his public school, Jacobsen Middle School, didn't inspire confidence about her commitment to protect gay and lesbian students when she said that Walsh had made possible expressions of orientations for being . . uh . . uh . . homosexual. Trying to find a substitute for the heinous word gay, she could barely get out the word homosexual without choking on it. It certainly tended to discredit her claim that Walsh and his family had never submitted any complaints.

The tragic death of Walsh brings to mind something that Louis Proyect posted about gay marriage a few months ago:

Logo, a polling company subsidiary of MTV, asked young gays about their hopes. It found the following:

For one thing, younger gays now expect to stay put: no more running away to be gay. Rather than heading to big cities where gays are more readily accepted, young gays are planning to put down roots and raise families in small-town America.

That means younger gays fully anticipate, and demand, acceptance from their local communities. At the same time, younger gays don’t see a great need to depart from most cultural norms as expressed by their heterosexual peers; while wishing to be open and honest about their core identities, young gays also wish for the support and purpose of family.

The expectation of a spouse and children is common among younger gays, whereas the research indicated that only about a third of gays 35 and older shared that same desire. Overall, gays polled by the study said their top priority was marriage equality, followed by the environment, health care, and the economy.

Interesting. Young gays have decided to stay . . and fight. Sadly, Seth Walsh took the other option recognized by Harvey Milk. We've known about this for decades, and young gay males are still killing themselves.

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