Phillip Parker

Gordonsville, TN: Phillip Parker, age 14, died last week. His parents said he was constantly bullied for being gay.

Phillip’s family said they reported their concerns over their son’s
bullying to Gordonsville High School on multiple occasions, but the
bullying by a group of students just got worse.

WSMV-TV, Nashville doesn’t tell us how Phillip died. Frankly, it is irrelevant. Like tens of thousands of other gay children, Phillip had the audacity to be born in the Bible Belt.  Tennessee is that dark hole with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Every now and then, Tennessee feels compelled to prove that they can outdo the Scopes Monkey Trial; When it comes to gays they have barely begun the oppression.

These kids are some of the bravest people on the planet. They go to school every day knowing that they will be ridiculed and even physically bullied. The adults who should know better do nothing to intervene. Indeed, some of them actually believe that the bullying is what is required to turn the child into a heterosexual.

Some right wing Christianist whack jobs, like Tony Perkins, tell us that it’s our fault for “recruiting” or “indoctrinating” more young people. Those youngsters know that it is wrong to be gay making it inevitable that more kids are killing themselves. Others, like “Dr.” (not really) Patrick L. Wooden, Sr., tell anyone who will listen that gays can look forward to “diapers or a butt plug” in their 40’s due to anal sex.

A veritable cornucopia of crackpots exist in the ether of the religious right. Making matters worse, they have a willingly ignorant audience and loud microphones. As absolutely insane as this nonsense appears to be, it is received as the “word of God” by some. Furthermore, the bullshit is repeated by candidates for President of the United States.

I’m not making excuses for the bullies but they hear about “perverts,” “deviants” and “fags” at the dinner table. It’s little wonder that they view gay kids as fair game. For their part, the bullied kids have not yet developed sufficient ego strengths to deal with the constant barrage of derision. They don’t get the support that they so desperately need at school. Parents are at a loss.

Our anger and intense sadness won’t help Phillip Parker. Phillip Parker couldn’t take it anymore. Bravery     even remarkable bravery     has its limits.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.