Kenneth Weishuhn lived in Iowa. That Iowa. Marriage equality Iowa. And Kenneth Weishuhn was a young gay man, a freshman at South O'Brien High School in Paullina, Iowa.
Like a lot of young kids, just figuring out their place in the world, and how they might live in it, outwardly Kenneth seemed happy and fun and friendly. Inside, was a different story.
"He says, 'Mom, you don't know how it feels to be hated."--Jeannie Chambers, Kenneth's mother.
And that was something even Kenneth didn't know, until he decided to come out of the closet.
"People that were originally his friends, they kind of turned on him."--Kayla Weishuhn, Kenneth's sister.
The teasing started almost the minute the news got out that Kenneth Weishuhn had said he was gay. Kayla, a sophomore, says it was the boys in her class who first started bullying her brother over his sexuality.
But then they took their hate online, to Facebook, creating a hate group against gays and adding Kenneth's friends as members. Then came death threats from his fellow South O'Brien students on Kenneth's phone.
"When I'd question him about the phone calls, like he just blew it off, so I just thought everything was ok."--Jeannie Chambers.
Kenneth Weishuhn took his own life last weekend. The bullying has stopped.
According to Chambers, those South O'Brien boys who made the death threats were given a warning, but she was never contacted by the school. She hasn't decided if she wants to press charges against the students who drove her son to his death.
"I really don't want to ruin somebody else's life, or take someone else's son or daughter from them. But, I don't know what it's going to take to get it to stop."--Jeannie Chambers.
"To make someone feel so horrible about themselves, so miserable. To make them hate themselves the way my brother must have."--Kayla Weishuhn.
I seriously hope that when Jeannie Chambers has processed her grief, and comes to terms with what was done to her son, that she does press charges against the bullies. A push in the hallway is horrible. Being called faggot in class is worse. Having a Facebook page dedicated to hate, and finding your name on it is unthinkable.
But calling someone and threatening to kill them?
That requires punishment.