Jaheem Herrera suicide inspires town hall on bullying

Southern Voice
Young people will have the chance to speak out about their brushes with bullying at a town hall meeting Aug. 15 at the Hyatt Regency hosted by the Georgia Coalition Against Bullying.

The meeting is part of an ongoing response to the April 16 suicide of Jaheem Herrera, an 11-year-old fifth grader at Dunaire Elementary School. Herrera killed himself after enduring constant bullying by classmates, including being called “gay,” alleges his family.

An internal investigation by the DeKalb School District found no wrong-doing by teachers or administrators. A report by the district also stated that when students called Herrera “gay” they meant “happy.”

Joining the Georgia Coalition Against Bullying in the forum is Georgia Equality, the state’s largest gay advocacy organization, as well as numerous faith-based and civil rights organizations.

“It is obvious that our current policies that address bullying are insufficient and that too many children and young adults suffer needlessly as a result,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, in a statement.

“When you have schools districts who publicly state that their position is that ‘gay means happy’ there is obviously a disconnect between those who set policy and those most affected by those policies. Therefore it is crucial that we hear from young people on this issue and include them in our efforts to better protect all students,” Graham added.

The town hall forum, designed to allow young people to speak out, will follow a two-day conference sponsored by the National Action Network.

“Young people must be enabled to exercise their right to express their views, engage with other young people of diverse backgrounds and contribute to the development of strategies and solutions for tackling issues affecting them,” said Tyleis Speight, Southeast Regional Director of National Action Network, in a statement. Full story.


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