- Views & Opinions
Officials with the Schiocton school district refute charges that the suicide of Cody J. Barker, 17, was related to anti-gay bullying.
Barker was the third gay teen to commit suicide in Outagamie County since May 2009, and his death came amid a spate of national stories about gay youth taking their lives after being harrassed and bullied due to their sexual orientation.
“Right now everybody’s looking for someone to be the poster child for this issue,” Supt. Chris VanderHeyden told the Post-Crescent. “As soon as it was announced that this young man was gay and that he killed himself, everyone immediately started connecting dots that weren’t there.”
However, Barker’s mother Darla said she suspects that bullying did play a role in her son’s death. She told the Post-Crescent that she was “dumbfounded” at how quickly the school district acted to quash the allegation.
“(Teens) are smart about when they do it,” Barker was quoted as saying. “They don’t do it in front of a teacher. I know there was name-calling and dirty looks in the hallway. I know that went on.”
Darla Barker said she even witnessed teens taunting Cody at their home. She asked students to look out for each other.
“(When) you see somebody in the hall and they look like they’re having a bad day, ask them how they’re doing,” she said. “If you see somebody getting picked on, stick up for them. Just help each other.”