Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars are mourning the death of a young soul.
Nine-year-old Jamel Myles died by suicide several days after coming out as gay to his classmates, CBS News reports. He reportedly took his own life on Thursday in his Denver home due to the overwhelming bullying he suffered at school.
“He looked so scared when he told me. He was like, ‘Mom, I’m gay,’” Myles’ mom Leia Pierce recalls. “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 said her son was so excited to dress in more traditionally feminine clothing and equally thrilled to share his news with classmates. Myles took his own life less than one week after starting fourth grade at Joe Shoemaker Elementary.
“Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him. My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself,” said Pierce. “I’m just sad he didn’t come to me.
“We should have accountability for bullying,” she continued. “I think the parent should be held [responsible] because obviously the parents are either teaching them to be like that or they’re treating them like that.”
Celebrities, including Canadian actress Ellen Page and transgender icon Laverne Cox, honoured little Jamel Myles on Twitter.
Last week, Denver Public Schools sent a letter to parents addressing Myles’ suicide. “At DPS, we are deeply committed to ensuring that all members of the school community are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or transgender status,” the district wrote. “It is critical that our students receive all the support they need to learn and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment.
“Our formal policies and practices reflect this commitment to ensuring that our LGBTQ+ students can pursue their education with dignity. From policies and training to prevent and stop bullying to formal policies and guidance materials that fully respect gender identity (including use of preferred pronouns and restrooms).”