The mother of nine-year-old Jamel Myles says her son died by suicide last week after experiencing vicious bullying due to his sexuality.
Leia Pierce has spoken out about her son’s death in order to shine a light on the ongoing struggle of young LGBTI people in schools, KVDR reported.
“And he looked so scared when he told me. He was like, ‘Mom I’m gay.’ And I thought he was playing, so I looked back because I was driving, and he was all curled up, so scared. And I said, ‘I still love you.'”
Pierce said Jamel wanted to come out to his classmates as well, and that he wanted to start wearing more feminine clothes.
“He went to school and said he was gonna tell people he’s gay because he’s proud of himself,” she said.
“He goes, ‘Can I be honest with you?’ And I was like sure, and he’s like, ‘I know you buy me boy stuff because I’m a boy, but I’d rather dress like a girl.'”
Last Thursday, Pierce discovered Jamel had died by suicide in their home in Denver, Colorado.
“Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” she said.
“My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself. I’m just sad he didn’t come to me.
“I’m so upset that he thought that was his option,” Pierce said.
“We should have accountability for bullying. I think the child should. Because the child knows it’s wrong.
“The child wouldn’t want someone to do it to them. I think the parent should be held because obviously the parents are either teaching them to be like that, or they’re treating them like that,” she said.
Pierce said Jamel was a fan of wearing dresses with a tiara and high heels, as well as Pokémon cards, music and robots.
“I’m dead inside,” she said. “He was beautiful. He was magic. I lost my greatest gift.”
The Denver coroner’s office confirmed Jamel’s death was a suicide.
The school district has made crisis counsellors available to students and anyone else affected.
Earlier this year, 12 year old Matthew Leach, who identified as bisexual, was found dead by his parents in their Mississippi home having taken his own life.
If you or someone close to you is struggling and needs someone to speak to, you can contact one of these services:
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Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
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Lifeline: 13 11 14