A 12-year-old boy killed himself last week after being bullied for coming out as bisexual.
Andrew Leach came out to his family after struggling with his sexual orientation, his father Matt Leach told WREG. Andrew’s family said he was bullied at Southaven Middle School in Mississippi, but after coming out to classmates, the bullying intensified. He took his life on March 6.
"Kids were telling him, 'We're gonna put hands on you. You're not going to make it out of this bathroom,'” Matt Leach said. “Things of that nature."
His mother Cheryl Hudson admitted she didn’t realize her son needed help.
"I guess I was just oblivious to it. He just always seemed happy," she said. She wants the bullies “to know what they've done and how it affects other people.”
Andrew’s school district in DeSoto County has a zero tolerance policy for bullying — but the family doesn’t believe it’s enforced.
"All bullying reports are treated with the utmost importance,” the school district said in a statement. “Students and parents are encouraged to contact school officials anytime there are bullying concerns, and they can use a link on the DeSoto County Schools website if they would prefer to report bullying incidents anonymously. All claims are investigated thoroughly, and school counselors are trained to help students and intervene when they are aware of a situation. Our hearts go out to this young student’s friends and family."
The school district did not say whether it was aware of Andrew’s bullying.
"If you think there's any chance of your child suffering from depression, their grades are drastically changing, their eating habits or sleeping habits changed, then get in their business. Talk to them," Matt Leach said.
Those who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They can also reach The Trevor Project, which provides trained suicide counselors specifically for LGBT youth. Call 866-488-7386.
To contribute to the family’s funeral expenses, a GoFundMe is available here.