A grieving mother in Iowa whose gay son recently died by suicide spoke at length with the Des Moines Register, saying that a culture of bullying at her son’s school likely contributed to the desperation of several teens there who took their own lives. Her son AJ’s suicide is the fifth in five years among students at Southeast Polk High School.
According to the Des Moines Register, AJ’s “mother said she believes bullying and frequent insults, combined with a mental illness, contributed to [AJ’s] decision to kill himself.”
If you are in crisis or thinking about suicide, don’t hesitate to reach out for help: Call the Trevor Lifeline at the Trevor Project: 1-(866)-488-7386 (U.S. Residents). To learn about other ways to get help, and for information about helping somebody in crisis, visit the Trevor Project’s website.
Cason has already reached five of the peaks. After he climbs Mount Everest, he heads to Alaska to climb the seventh and final peak on his list, Denali (also known as Mount McKinley).
Cason will be the first openly gay person to reach all seven summits, and the fifth youngest person ever to do so.
You can follow his progress on Twitter. (According to one recent tweet, he had “landed safely in Lukla” and was “eating breakfast before heading down the trail towards #Everest!”) You can also support his efforts by donating to his initiative here. All donations go directly to the Trevor Project. (None go to climbing expenses).
Recent LGBT-youth-related stories from around the country and world:
• The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund has filed a groundbreaking lawsuit on behalf of a young transgender girl in Colorado. CNN reports on the story here and in the video below, and the TLDEF’s press release is here. The school will not let the young girl use the girls’ restroom.
• Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union is demanding that a school remove Internet filters that have blocked access to LGBT-supportive websites. The filters have also blocked the sites of some anti-gay groups.
• A Connecticut school, facing pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, has reversed course and will allow a student to wear an anti-gay t-shirt. The shirt pictures a rainbow in a circle with a line through it. The legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut told reporters that while “[t]he ACLU has fought hard for same-sex marriage” and “couldn’t agree with [the student] less on that issue,” the student “is absolutely correct about his right to express his opinion.” The news apparently didn’t sit well with area man Derrel Rice, 68, who was arrested after he went to two school properties to protest the school’s decision.