I’ve been holding on to this story for over a week now. I didn’t want to post it before Christmas, and then I didn’t want to wait until the first of the New Year. But the fact is that these stories must be told because they’re still happening; we’re still wringing our hands and asking ‘What can we do?’
Alexis “Lexi” Lopez-Brandies, a 14-year-old freshman at Horlick Senior High School in Racine, Wisconsin, committed suicide just before Christmas.
A vigil was held last week in her memory, with nearly 200 mourners gathered outside her home carrying candles; the vigil was organized by both the Gay-Straight Alliance [GSA] and the Youth Empowered in the Struggle [YES!], a group for Latino students and friends.
“She was such a beautiful person and I wish everybody could have met (her) because she really did turn everybody’s life around in a positive manner.”—Michael Dollaka-Posch, a friend
Lexi’s friends and family believe she was the victim of bullying which lead to her taking her own life, saying she was verbally attacked at school and on social media.
Stacy Tapp, a spokesperson for the Racine School District, says officials are working with the GSA and YES! to come up with an effective program to address bullying, and to address issues confronting students who identify as LGBTQ, and while I applaud that, in a way, I’m tired of schools and school officials saying things like “we’re working on it.”
Here’s how it’s done: bullying is not acceptable behavior; ever. You bully someone; you’re out. The victims of the bullies aren’t punished; they aren’t told to stop “acting gay”; they aren’t told how they need to adapt; if you bully someone, you’re out. Even if you’re a teacher or a coach or another parent. You call it Zero Tolerance and you mean it. Zero bullying.
And then maybe we won’t have Another One.