Girl Takes Life After Gender-Based Taunting

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com November 15 2011 9:18 PM ET

A 10-year-old Illinois girl has committed suicide after enduring bullying that included being called a boy when she had her hair cut short.

Ashlynn Conner, who lived in the small town of Ridge Farm in eastern Illinois, was found hanged in her closet Friday night, and family members believe she took her own life due to bullying and teasing that had gone on for several years, the Associated Press reports.

“When she started cheering for youth football, we’d gotten her hair cut in a bob,” said Lory Hackney, her grandmother. “The kids started making fun of her then. They started calling her a boy.” She was subsequently called “fat,” “ugly,” and “slut,” relatives said.

Vermilion County sheriff Pat Hartshorn said investigators “are not ruling out bullying, but we don’t have any firm evidence to support bullying,” the AP reports.

However, Ashlynn’s mother, Stacy Conner, said the girl came home from school Thursday complaining about taunting by fellow students and asked if she could be home-schooled. Stacy told Ashlynn, a fifth-grade honor roll student who hoped to become a veterinarian, that she would discuss the teasing with her school principal this week. But Friday, shortly after having a phone conversation with a friend about the problem, Ashlynn was discovered hanging in the closet. Hackney, a retired nurse, tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate her granddaughter.

“I don’t know what was so bad she couldn’t wait,” Hackney told the AP.