He was bullied at school after telling classmates he was gay
Over the summer, nine-year-old Jamel Myles told his mom he’s gay. Now, after only four days back at school, he’s died by suicide after classmates bullied him for coming out.
Myles was a fourth grader at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School in Denver, Colorado. His mom, Leia Pierce, tells Fox 31 News that her son was nervous to come out to her this summer. “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.”
Last Thursday, only four days into the new school year, her son died in their home. “Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” Pierce 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.”
Kids at school told a fellow classmate to kill himself. For coming out as gay. There are no words for how horrifying this is.
Meet 9 y.o. #JamelMyles. This summer he came out to his mom as gay. Then, he went back to school, 4th grd. The bullying came quickly. His mom said, “My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself.” On the 4th day he did just that. I’m so sick of this! pic.twitter.com/ivhYf9qK3j
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) August 28, 2018
Heartbreakingly, Myles was excited to tell his friends that he was gay once the new school year began. “He went to school and said he was gonna tell people he’s gay because he’s proud of himself,” says Pierce.
Bravery should not be something that is ridiculed and evoke statements of hate. #JamelMyles should have been able to share his fearlessness with the world
— Blake Nemeth (@BlakeNemeth) August 27, 2018
Denver Public Schools sent a letter home to district parents to explain what happened to Myles and to share that the school will be providing a crisis team and social workers for students. “I’m so upset that he thought that was his option,” says Pierce.
Maybe if we spent less time agonising about whether children are "too young" to have conversations about sexuality at school, and more time confronting bullying and supporting vulnerable students, tragedies like this wouldn't happen in 2018.https://t.co/N2t8OYzEP8
— Rachel Cunliffe (@RMCunliffe) August 28, 2018
Pierce tells The Denver Post that her son was “the kindest soul” and that he wanted to become a YouTube star so he could buy his mom a new house. “My child died because of bullying. My baby killed himself,” she says. “He didn’t deserve this. He wanted to make everybody happy even when he wasn’t. I want him back so bad.”
The grieving mom wants her son’s death to shed light on bullying — and the need to hold both kids and their parents accountable. “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.”
People ask us, "how much longer will the world need pride festivals and pride parades?" our answer sadly remains: "Until every child can safely and confidently #LiveProud." #JamelMyles https://t.co/bP6IKgA063
— Milwaukee Pride (@mkepride) August 27, 2018
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).