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Gay Tennessee Teen Who Committed Suicide Was Bullied Relentlessly

by David Badash on January 23, 2012

in Discrimination,News,Politics

Post image for Gay Tennessee Teen Who Committed Suicide Was Bullied Relentlessly

More than one hundred classmates of Phillip Parker, who was just 14 when he committed suicide Friday, were quick to contact Parker’s parents to tell them that he was the victim of relentless anti-gay bullying. Phillip Parker’s parents told the media they had contacted the school numerous times to complain about the bullying, but it’s unclear what, if anything, administrators at Gordonsville High School, in Gordonsville, Tennessee, did. Tonight, Phillip’s parents and grandparents are scheduled to meet with school officials.

The front page of the Gordonsville High School website claims:

The mission of GHS is to help all students become responsible, self-directed learners capable of functioning in today’s ever-changing society. GHS is committed to helping all students develop the skills necessary to thrive in the face of life’s challenges. This will take place in a secure environment free from violence, drugs, and fear.

“Because he was gay, he got mistreated physically, mentally by several people out there at the school, and I am very resentful as a result of it, Phillip’s grandfather, Paul Haris, told the media. “After he did what he did, we found out a lot that we didn’t know and there is a lot of bullying that goes on at the school.”

More than 100 people, including Phillips’s classmates, held a vigil and promised to stop the bullying at Gordonsville High School, as this video, below, notes.


Sadly, Phillip Parker is the third LGBTQ teen to die by suicide this month, along with Eric James Borges and Jeffrey Fehr; all three were victims of anti-gay bullying, as LGBTQ Nation notes:

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, Jeffrey Fehr, 18, hanged himself at his family’s home in Granite Bay, Calif. Jeffrey’s parents are convinced that a lifetime of taunts and bullying contributed to their gay son’s decision to take his own life.

Tennessee is, sadly, a hotbed of anti-LGBT hatred, and just last week its proposed, infamous, “Don’t Say Gay” bill, scheduled for a vote, was fortunately postponed.

Tennessee is also considering a so-called anti-bullying bill, which, as anti-bullying expert and author Ian Rivers wrote in The New Civil Rights Movement earlier this month, is “a frivolous piece of legislation,” that essentially protects bullies claiming relies protections for bullying those they perceive to be gay.

Just a few weeks ago, Tennessee state lawmaker Richard Floyd threatened physical violence against trans people, saying he would “stomp” them if he saw one in a store dressing room.

And as The New Civil Rights Movement reported just last month, a private Christian school in Tennessee just implemented a new policy banning anything and everything about homosexuality. We contacted them for comment but none was ever received.

Also last month, Tennessee high school teen Jacob Rogers succumbed to suicide after years of anti-gay bullying that friends charge went unacknowledged by local school officials.

Also in December, a Tennessee lesbian was denied hospital visitation rights.

In October of last year, the principal of a Tennessee high school verbally and physically assaulted a 17-year old student merely for wearing a t-shirt advocating for a gay-straight alliance.

Our thoughts today are with Phillip Parker’s family and friends.


The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Call them 1-866-488-7386. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and visit, and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) website for more resources.

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BeerandOnion January 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm

He was just a little kid. Is this what the Christian bigots want?

ericarage January 23, 2012 at 7:45 pm

This perception comes from the same source as those who want to restrict a woman's right to choice, focus on fighting against equal rights under the law for gay couples, impede medical advances with stem cells…they would allow children to suffer so much they would kill themselves rather then do what they should to stop it. Those who hang on religion as the great light of humanity yet are willing to make "other's" of other human beings and spread hate and ignorance in the name of their religious beliefs are not leaders. They are not insightful, they do not serve the advancement of humanity as a whole. They reinforce needless suffering and we will all be better off then we diminish the power they claim to own "in the name of God" when all they do is USE this position to enhance their own.

ericarage January 23, 2012 at 7:50 pm

All this praying to God, claiming to be people of God….yet nothing done to stop this until he killed himself! What a sham, a fraud, a thorough disgrace.

NJinFlag January 23, 2012 at 8:18 pm

And tragically, there have been other teen suicides this month by teens who did not identify as LGBT.

rls2008 January 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm

<div id="idc-comment-msg-div-274325731" class="idc-message"><a class="idc-close" title="Click to Close Message" href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(274325731)"><span>Close Message</span> Comment posted. <p class="idc-nomargin"><a class="idc-share-facebook" target="_new" href="; style="text-decoration: none;"><span class="idc-share-inner"><span>Share on Facebook</span></span> or <a href="javascript: IDC.ui.close_message(274325731)">Close MessagePlease tell me "Beerandonions" that you aren't saying ALL Christians are bigots . If you are lumping all Christians into the "bigot" pot, I take offense. I am a straight and conservative Christian. Why is Phillip's death the fault of Christians?I happen to live in Smith County, Tennessee where the town of Gordonsville is located. Yes, I have seen and have been a part of the outpouring of prayers by Christians in the community sent out to Phillip's family. Praying is what we do when we learn of a tragic loss especially in our own community? Bullying is not about being gay or lesbians. Why is it though I feel as a collective group, a gay and lesbian kid taking their live because they were bullied is a bigger travesty than a straight kid under the same circumstance? Would you not feel the same way about a straight kid who was bullied and took their own life? What about the straight kids killing themselves? Unfortunately, they too are bullied and commit suicide but they don't get the media attention a gay teenager gets. I think we can all agree that there are major flaws in school systems across the nation in regarding bullying. It's not specifically just a problem here in Tennessee. "All this praying and claiming to be a people of God…Nothing done to stop this until he killed himself….Shame, fraud, thorough disgrace.." Really? Is it, because I choose to pray, did I caused Phillip and other gay and lesbians kids like him to take their lives? I wouldn't pray differently for any family who has lost a child to suicide because of bullying. What is wrong with praying to God for the family left behind? They may find comfort in his grace and love through the prayers of others. There are actually conservative Christians who have gay and lesbian friends and look at them for the person's they are not their sexual preference. The Episcopal church, of which I am a member. As a Christian church, we welcome and accept all who enter. I am empathetic to the multitude of issues facing the gay and lesbian community .I can only imagine what it must be like to fight for equality in human rights. But PLEASE take your head out of the sand. Quit wallowing in what appears as a straight person to be some sort of "woe's me", self absorbed gay and lesbian issue in the unjust loss of Phillip. Maybe you need to change what looks to me to be a very hateful and narrow minded prejudgement of Christians in looking a social controversies not just affecting the gay and lesbian community. Start looking at them objectively through the eyes of a caring human being. Be proactive in helping rectify the problems for all who are affected. Don't be so quick to judge when it touches more than your community . God bless.

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