Please pray for the friends and family of 14-year-old Kenneth James Weishuhn of Primghar, Iowa. Kenneth took his life on Saturday after being bullied for coming out as a gay teen a few months ago. Kenneth’s friends and family describe him as a happy young man, handsome and full of life. After coming out of the closet, the bullying Kenneth experienced was relentless. Tragically, the bullying was so severe that it pushed him to suicide.
What is a Christian response to LGBT teens and bullying? We cannot be silent. We need to be informed about bullying and teen suicide. We need to be clear to teach that all children and youth are part of God’s good creation, including those who are LGBT and questioning. We need to ensure that our church youth groups are safe places in addition to the schools in our community. Let us pray and work so that no more children or youth take their own lives.
Unfortunately, coming out of the closet cost him his young life. The bullying was relentless and severe to the point where he couldn’t take it any longer. No one, and I mean no one should have to sacrifice their life simply because of who they are. Yet, we’re seeing it happen over and over and over again. The question that’s begging to be answered is “how many more teen suicides do we have to endure before everybody realizes that we have an enormous problem on our hands?” How many more parents have to endure the pain of having to bury their teenaged child because he or she were bullied to break point before the politicians, school administrators, religious leaders become proactive and stop treating this as a mere annoyance? The people I talked to tonight are in real pain. Some were crying real tears. This is a very real problem, one that needs a very real solution. And, the attention given to it needs to be immediate.
It’s not enough to say “the ones who bullied him to a point where he took his life will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.” That’s true. However, there’s two problems with that: 1.) if they were cold-hearted enough to do this in the first place, chances are they’re not going to lose much sleep over the fact that their actions caused someone to end their life; and, 2.) the families and friends of the victim also has to live with the bully’s actions for rest of their lives. And, that’s unacceptable…
We can no longer afford to wait for our “leaders” to come to a solution with this issue. Too many lives are being lost. I’ve written about 3 in the past 9 days! And, believe this: for the three I’ve written about, there are at least three more somewhere around the world that I don’t know about. Yet, our leaders are treating a 5-alarm blaze like a brush fire. It’s time…it’s past time!!!…for every concerned citizen, young or old, black or white, gay or straight, Christian or atheist to do their part in bringing this sad chapter to an abrupt end.
Two of Kenneth’s friends, Kristi and Brandi, made a youtube video in tribute to their gone-too-soon friend:
What Your Church Can Do Right Now
The film Bully has just opened in theaters nationally. You may find a showing in your local area at the official website for Bully.
How is your church, Christian Education program, youth group and presbytery addressing bullying? Please consider taking your youth group to see Bully together and having a discussion afterward. We hope that every Presbyterian minister, religious educator, youth director, Sunday School teacher and campus minister will make every effort to see this film. As a matter of fact, we hope that every Presbyterian will see this film and talk about it with others in their church, campus ministry or seminary community. We owe this to all of our children and youth.
If you want more information about the film, we commend the interview in The Advocate with Lee Hirsch, the Director of Bully.