Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Iowa Teen Driven to Suicide by Bullying

Kenneth Weishuhn, 14, bullied to death by his schoolmates for being gay.

Primghar/Paullina, Iowa – An out gay teen took his life in Northwest Iowa on Saturday night because bullying in his high school had become intolerable for him.  Kenneth Weishuhn was just 14 years old.  After coming out as gay barely a month ago, the torrent of anti-gay harassment overwhelmed his gentle spirit. KTIV News reports that he had not anticipated how hated he would become after revealing his sexual orientation to his friends.  His sister Kayla told reporters that her brother was constantly harassed and bullied by boys in her class at South O’Brien High School where Kenneth was a freshman. “People that were originally his friends, they kind of turned on him,” she said.  Bullies set up an anti-gay Facebook page targeting Kenneth.  Then, Kenneth started receiving death threats on his phone.  “A lot of people, they either joined in or they were too scared to say anything,” Kayla concluded.

His mother Jeannie Chambers asked him about the menacing phone calls, but believed Kenneth was handling them well enough. Still, there were warning signs that the pressure was getting to much for the 14-year-old. EDGE On the Net reports that Kenneth told his mother “Mom, you don’t know how it feels to be hated.” Though the school was aware of the bullying and issued a warning to his tormentors, it seemed to do no good. Nothing stopped.  Kenneth’s mother says the school never contacted her about the problem.  Now she is contemplating bringing legal action against the students she feels drove her son to suicide.

The towns of Paullina and Primghar, approximately 50 miles from Sioux City, are having to come to grips with the ugliness of homophobia and hate crime, issues these communities of largely German Lutheran ancestry never thought they would have to face. Counselors have been working with Kenneth’s schoolmates who are devastated by the suicide of their friend.  Many saw him as a loving, loyal friend, and cannot understand how hateful other students have been.  His friends have created a tribute video to express their love and grief at his passing. According to Channel 4 News, authorities are investigating both the in-school and online bullying that targeted Kenneth for being gay.

Kayla says that she has lost her best friend, the only person she could completely trust. Hatred built to a point of no return, she believes. “Things get started, and then they get out of hand,” she told interviewers for Channel 4. “Then they go too far, and you can’t stop it.  He is gone now, and he is not coming back.”  Kenneth’s funeral was conducted on Thursday at Grace Lutheran Church in Primghar.

April 18, 2012 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, Bullying in schools, death threats, gay teens, GLBTQ, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Iowa, LGBTQ, LGBTQ suicide, suicide | , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. This is really disheartening. Rest in peace, Kenneth. I hope those who “crucified” you for being who you are will realize the gravity of their offense and that they have no right to judge anyone. Not even Christ threw a stone at Mary Magdalene. Who do these people think they are?

    Comment by Leann Zarah | May 3, 2012 | Reply


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