More developments on the shameful and so-called internal "review" by the DeKalb County (Georgia) School District that found "no evidence" of the relentless bullying of 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera, who hung himself after months of anti-gay taunts and violence. Southern Voice reports experts, gay activists and community leaders are outraged the school system is attempting to downplay taunts of the word "gay" with its historic definition as "happy."
When Jaheem Herrera carried a pink backpack to Dunaire Elementary School in DeKalb County one day, classmates taunted him and called him "gay." "The children use ‘gay’ for anything and everything. The clothing is gay, the gesture is gay, what they say is gay, and that is a term they use," Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore said at a press conference last week. :Now with these students we asked them, ‘Well, what does gay mean?’ They said ‘gay means happy,’ and this is many of the students."
Both Moore and Superintendent Crawford Lewis have said multiple times that the students at Dunaire didn’t understand what the word "gay" meant, and that they didn’t mean it in a sexual context. "Some students did tell us they had asked their teacher what gay meant and their teachers are the ones who told them gay means happy," Moore said at the conference to detail the internal findings.
The "review" comes at the same time Jaheem Herrera's mother Masika Bermudez and other parents file suit against the DeKalb County School District. The "investigation" is in response to a possible criminal investigation as other parents say their sons were bullied, harassed, "called gay" and beaten with belt buckles at the same school.
Rev. Dennis Meredith of the LGBT-inclusive Tabernacle Baptist Church, who has been acting as an unofficial liaison between the gay community and Herrera’s parents, was astonished with Moore’s claims of the students’ innocence. "Please, those kids know what that word means. At 11-years old? Please! They know, they know."
David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators, says sexual orientation is such a politically sensitive topic, some teachers are afraid to approach it. "Teachers are so afraid that if they say something that some parent is going to call up and say you’re promoting homosexuality, that’s the fear in Georgia. If it were a place like California it would be different."
Gay Does Not Mean Happy [SoVo]
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