Tenn. Pol. Blames Bad Parenting, Not Bullying, For Suicides

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com April 25 2012 1:41 PM ET

A state representative in Tennessee apologized Tuesday after saying poor parenting and improper values are chief causes of teen suicides, and not bullying.

Rep. Jeremy Faison spoke during a marathon session, which included debate over Rep. Charles Curtis's bill to clarify harassment and bullying laws. The Tennessean reports that Faison may have been particularly referring to two Tennessee teenagers, Phillip Parker and Jacob Rogers, who committed suicide after being continuously bullied for their sexual orientation.

"We can’t continue to legislate everything," he said during the legislature's debate. "We’ve had some horrible things happen in America and in our state, and there’s children that have actually committed suicide, but I will submit to you today that they did not commit suicide because of somebody bullying them. They committed suicide because they were not instilled the proper principles of where their self-esteem came from at home."

State Democrats condemned Faison's statements, but Faison issued an apology later that day. 

“After reviewing my comments on the House Floor today, I regret what was a poor choice of words," he said in a statement. "My true intent was to protect children from becoming criminals. Suicide has touched my family, and I would never want a parent or family member to feel they were responsible for such an unimaginable tragedy.”

Several bills have been debated in the Tennessee legislature this year challenging LGBT rights, including the infamous "Don't Say Gay" bill, and a now-withdrawn bill that would have barred transgender people from using public restrooms and dressing rooms that match their gender identity.