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Clovis family speaks out against bullying

Monday, October 11, 2010

A valley family speaks out against bullying after their transgender teen commits suicide.

Justin Lacey graduated from Buchanan High School in 2009. Just recently, the 18-year-old started living as Chloe -- a transgender woman.

Chloe's family says overall, her peers accepted her for who she was. But, she was still terrified of being bullied for coming out. They say that's what led her to commit suicide.

According to gay rights group Equality Forum, in the past month, 7 teens have taken their own lives over these very same issues.

At Buchanan High School, Justin Lacey was your typical guy. He liked snowboarding, BMX riding, and art. But, when the 18-year-old decided to transition into Chloe earlier this year, family members say she struggled with fears of harassment and abuse.

Chloe's mom says, "Who wants to see a young man walking down the street with a dress on? In his eyes, that was the worst fear of all time, for someone to throw rocks at him, beat him up. It's just the overall society judgment is what did this."

Just days before her 19th birthday, Chloe shot and killed herself inside her Eureka home where she was living for school. Her family says Chloe's death mirrors that of other teens who have recently committed suicide due to bullying.

Last month, Rutgers University freshman, Tyler Clementi committed suicide after his roommate leaked a private encounter between clementi and another male on the internet. Weeks before that incident, 13-year-old Kern County resident Seth Walsh, hung himself after he was bullied at school for being gay.

Chloe's step-dad says, "That's what we're creating as a society. We're creating this incredible cloud of fear for these individuals and they feel they have nowhere to go."

Gay rights groups all over the country are rallying to help teens like Chloe. At Fresno State Sunday, United Student Pride started preparing for an on-campus event Monday called "Be the Change, Out is In."

Fresno State student, Dausha Calhoun says, "We want all the incoming high school students and all the other community to know that there is somebody here to help them that's here on campus and to know they're not alone."

Support Chloe's family says they wished she had before she died.

"Your kids want acceptance."

"Was it hard for you to accept Chloe?"

"No. No. It's hard for me to accept that she's gone."

Buchanan High School will have a "Stop the Hate" campaign the first week of November. Chloe's parents plan to speak to the entire campus about these issues.

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gay rights, clovis, fresno county, local, shannon handy
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