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Mom Counters Perkins on Suicides

Mom Counters Perkins on Suicides


Sirdeaner Walker, whose son Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover killed himself in 2009 at age 11 after being subjected to bullying and antigay taunts, has an essay in The Washington Post's On Faith blog countering assertions made by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in the forum Monday, blaming gay activism for suicides by young people.

"Mr. Perkins' tactic, and that of others like him, is to use faith and religion to divide us," Walker writes in a piece published Tuesday. "They seek to thwart efforts to deal with a problem at the heart of this current crisis -- anti-gay bullying and harassment. But Perkins goes further -- his 'facts' are taken out of context and are, frankly, untrue." For one thing, she says, Perkins claims that there is no empirical evidence linking antigay discrimination to higher rates of depression and suicide among LGBT people, when in fact there is.

After her son's suicide, Walker, who describes herself as "a devout Christian," became involved with the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network and its efforts to end bullying in schools. Some friends and relatives told her they thought GLSEN's work controversial, but she is now a GLSEN board member, and she has this to say about bullying:

"If schools perceive addressing anti-gay bullying as a controversial issue, then they'll continue the status quo of putting their heads in the sand and hoping the issue takes care of itself . ... I know all too well that if schools and society are unwilling to name the specific types of bullying that occur most frequently, we will never get a handle on this problem."

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