In Tennessee, where lawmakers are once again considering the “don’t say gay” bill aimed at schools, a 14-year-old Gordonsville student named Phillip Parker killed himself Friday.
By Lucas Grindley
In Tennessee, where lawmakers are once again considering the “don’t say gay” bill aimed at schools, a 14-year-old Gordonsville student killed himself Friday.
Family and friends gathered to remember Phillip Parker Saturday, sharing their stories while holding hands and comforting each other.
"That’s my son," the boy’s father, Phillip Parker, told local news station WSMV. “I love him. I miss him. He shouldn’t have had to kill himself to be brought to life.”
The parents say their son hadn’t told them about the constancy of the bullying he faced at school for being gay. But his friends told local media they witnessed repeated harassment. According to News Channel 5 reports, the note his parents found beside his body said, “Please help me mom.”
The Tennessee Equality Project plans a candlelight vigil Thursday at the Cookeville Courthouse Square to remember Parker and to call on lawmakers to stop sending a negative message to students.
The so-called don’t say gay bill would bar teachers from discussing homosexuality in public school classes in kindergarten through eighth grade. It managed to pass the state Senate on a 20-10 vote last year. But the House ran out of time to consider it, and now lawmakers are trying again.
"We are reaching out and we continue to call for our General Assembly to turn from discriminatory legislation and toward positive solutions to bullying," the Tennessee Equality Project wrote to its followers on Facebook.
They point out that this is the second suicide in Middle Tennessee in two months, with Cheatham County teenager Jacob Rogers killing himself December 7 after repeated bullying.
Anyone thinking about suicide or in need of support is asked to contact the Trevor Lifeline at (866) 488-7386 for help.