The suicide of 13-year-old Cy-Fair middle schooler Asher Brown is attracting growing attention around the net.
It's solidifying into a story of a gay kid who got bullied while school officials looked the other way. The parents say Asher told them he was gay last week; later that day, after coming home from school, he shot himself.
The parents have flat-out accused the school of ignoring their repeated warnings about bullying, and have retained lawyers. They've invited the public to attend Asher's memorial service wearing shorts and flip-flops because that's how he would want it, guaranteeing media coverage that will keep pressure on the school district.
Asher's death is an utter tragedy, and if bullying played any part in it -- whether it was gay-related or not -- it's reprehensible. Judging from comments on Facebook and other websites from people saying they witnessed bullying, it seems safe to assume there was some.
If the school indeed ignored warnings, they should be held to account.
But boy, are there two completely different versions of events.
Amy Truong, Asher's mom, and David Truong, his stepdad, are quite emphatic that they called officials at Hamilton Middle School in Cy-Fair ISD to complain about what was happening to Asher. They've told reporters they made repeated visits to the school to talk to officials.
The school district says they have absolutely no records of any such visits or reports of bullying, from the parents or from others in the school.
The district is quite clear on this. In a statement given to Hair Balls and other media, a spokeswoman says:
There was no report from students, staff members or the parents that this student was bullied while at Hamilton Middle School. Such a report would have been investigated and consequences would have followed the Student Code of Conduct.
The parents are equally adamant. Amy Trong told the Houston Chronicle:
That's absolutely inaccurate -- it's completely false. I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. ... It's like they're calling us liars.
That's a pretty ugly dispute.
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And the truth should be obtainable: Anyone who visits a school these days is aware of the paperwork involved, signing in, handing over ID, etc. And parent complaints about bullying -- especially insistent ones -- tend to generate further paperwork.
The district says they can find nothing of the kind in relation to this case. If it turns out some Cy-Fair ISD employee is guilty of a cover-up, or of ignoring parents' pleas, the district will look very bad indeed.
Asher Brown's life was inutterably sad; no 13-year-old should be in such a dark place that he or she thinks suicide is the only way out.
Unless the truth can be determined about what happened and how school officials reacted, the coda to his life will be sad, too, as accusations and denials fly.