Sirdeaner Walker says her "life changed forever on April 6, 2009", the night she was cooking dinner and went upstairs to discover her son Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover hanged himself with an electrical cord. Although at 11-years-old Carl did not identify as "gay", the promising student and athlete who attended New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts had been subjected to months of relentless anti-gay bullying.
Walker, who has used these months to channel her grief into raising awareness on bullying, testified before Congress today in the first hearings on the Safe Schools Improvement Act. Transcript at GLSEN. "What could make a child his age despair so much that he would take his own life?," Walker asked members of the House Education Committee. "That question haunts me to this day, and I will probably never know the answer. What we do know is that Carl was being bullied relentlessly in school."
The mother says the children at school were "pushing him around, calling him names, saying he acted 'gay,' and calling him 'faggot'." Walker told the committee: "I was furious. So I called the school right away and told them about the situation. I expected they would be just as upset as I was, but instead, they told me it was just ordinary social interaction that would work itself out. I desperately wish they had been right. But it just got worse. By March, other kids were threatening to kill him."
Sirdeaner Walker says the school acted "like it was Carl's problem" and "did not know how to respond." AFTER THE JUMP, via Pam's House Blend, watch the riveting testimony of this brave woman. How many more young boys, such as Jaheem Herrera, will take their own lives as Carl did as they are "initiated" into "manhood"?