T/W bullying, suicide
I have posted many articles relating to the death of Justin Aaberg and the Anoka-Hennepin School District but this is a very personal and extremely touching account of a Justin’s mother discovering Justin’s body. It is also heartening what she has done since then to try to prevent it from happening to others as her family tries to heal. And it is infuriatingly frustrating how the school board has handled the suicides of nine children in the school district (NINE!).
Yet, Anoka-Hennepin appointed a homophobe to their anti-bullying task force. It all has a very Kafka-esque quality to it and it demonstrates the power a fantical few have over those who are being bullied or abused within the school system.
On July 9, 2010, my son Justin still wasn’t awake at 2:00 p.m. when my then 7-year-old son Anthony and I returned from getting our new baby chinchilla. This wasn’t normal, and so, after knocking on his door and frantically calling his name and threatening to break the door down, my oldest son, Andrew — who was 18 at the time — heard me and yelled that he would go get a screwdriver.
Anthony yelled, “I’ll go get a knife,” as the kitchen was just around the corner.
After getting the door open, I didn’t see Justin at first, but as I walked in, I saw my son dead by his own hand.
I screamed his name and ran up to him, as I wanted to hug him, but quickly realized that Justin wasn’t there anymore. He had obviously been dead for several hours.
I stopped and touched 2 fingers to his chest and felt how cold and rubbery he was — I ran screaming out of the bedroom to call 911. Anthony stayed right with me, and a couple of days later I would learn than Andrew had stayed by his brother’s side until the police came, as he didn’t want to leave Justin alone.
July 9, 2010 was the worst day of our lives.
Our lives today, over two years later, are still not what they used to be.
We have days that are better than others, and we have now developed what people might call “a new normal”— but we still miss Justin and his beautiful bright light that he brought to our lives every day with his beautiful, almost never-ending smile and his amazing cello music that he loved to play so often.
Unfortunately, today — over 2 years after that awful summer day when I first learned about the bullying and harassment that Justin faced in school on a continuous basis, and confronting the Anoka-Hennepin school board for my first time at a public meeting about what my son and other gay students like him have endured in the schools — my family is still not able to heal the way we should have been able to.
The Anoka-Hennepin school board has continued to deny that their policies were at all at fault.
They also continue to allow hate groups to have a major voice in how they handle the safety of their LGBTQ students, and other students that don’t accept the “conservative Christian” religious beliefs.