Four days into the new school year, a 9-year-old fourth grader took his life after coming out as gay to his family and peers.
Jamel Myles attended Joe Shoemaker Elementary School in Denver, Colorado. He was proud of who he was and came out to his mother, Leia Pierce, last week, shortly before the school year started, reports the Denver Post.
"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," Pierce told Fox 31.
When school started, Jamel wanted to tell his classmates he was gay.
"He went to school and said he was gonna tell people he’s gay because he’s proud of himself," she said.
Pierce also shared Jamel's desire to dress more feminine.
"And he goes, 'Can I be honest with you?'" Pierce said. "And I was like sure, and he’s like, 'I know you buy me boy stuff because I’m a boy, but I’d rather dress like a girl.'"
So, she allowed him to wear fake nails on the first day of school, August 20.
According to the Denver Post, Pierce's eldest daughter told her Jamel was bullied for being who he was. Students allegedly told him to take his life because of it. Pierce found her son dead in their Denver home. She frantically tried to revive Jamel but could not.
"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."
Denver Public Schools spokesperson Will Jones said the school is taking measures to prevent a tragedy of this magnitude from happening again.
“Fourth and fifth-grade teachers at Shoemaker are creating a space for students to share how they are feeling and to process their emotions after hearing this news,” Jones said. “Teachers are also letting students know about the DPS crisis team members on hand to meet their social-emotional needs.”
Joe Shoemaker Elementary School Principal Christine Fleming has invited parents to speak with school officials about what happened.
"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," Pierce said.
In another case, a Chicago mother is demanding answers after her daughter was attacked and called homophobic slurs by a group of adults and students. Pierce, like all parents who want the best for children, calls for an end of bullying and hopes no one has to experience what she has.
Denver Police are investigating the child's death as a suicide, according to ABC 7.
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