12 Year Old Killed Himself After Being Bullied For His Sexual Orientation.
Kids at school can often be really mean to each other. At times even brutal. It has been reported that one in five students have at one point in their life reported being bullied. These things have ranged from being made fun of, name-called, purposefully excluded from various activities, yet sometimes these things do get physical. The reasons for bullying also are various, be it appearance or likes and dislikes, and not always anything is done about bullying or not always is it reported. The latter is what happened in the case of 12-year-old Eli Fritchley who ended up taking his own life after being bullied by children at school. What exactly happened that made the boy take such drastic actions? Was nothing done to stop the bullying? And what have his parents now decided to do to honor their son? Read on to the heartbreaking story of Eli.
Who Is Eli Fritchley?
Eli and his family, which included his mom and dad as well as five brothers, had lived in Shelbyville, Tennessee, where the 12-year-old attended seventh grade at the Cascades Middle School. There, the boy played trombone in a marching band, often having his mom paint his nails and wearing the same SpongeBob sweatshirt that his mom washed every day to make sure that his clothes were clean. Speaking to local media, his mother Debbey had said that her son was special from a young age and that he was unafraid to embrace who he was. And because of this, when six months prior to the tragedy, the boy stepped more into his individuality and told his parents that he was gay, they were not surprised, telling him that they knew and that it was fine. But it was also with this, that soon the mom of six began noticing that something was wrong with her son. What kind of things did he tell her? Read on to find out.
The candles from a birthday cake will never again flicker across his face.. I've had so many parents reach out to let us know the pain their children have gone through at the hands of bullies! This must be stopped..love you always Eli x #EliFritchley#stopthebullyingpic.twitter.com/ocvt4yirlV— Eli'sMama (@elis_mama21) December 12, 2021
Bullying At School
While his parents described Eli as a peaceful soul that was not afraid to be himself, some children at his school had used that as an advantage and used his open way of being to bully the 12-year-old. Speaking with local news, WKRN, Debbey had said that she thought her son wearing the same sweatshirt every single day was one of the things that they had used as a weapon against him. She also added that her son was told that since he didn’t necessarily have a religion and the fact that he was gay, he would go to hell. Eli’s dad Steven admitted that it was really abusive. He didn’t think it was physical only words but adding that words can really hurt.
Opening Up About Bullying
Appearing on local news, The Fritchleys had revealed that their son had opened up about bullying to them but they were unaware just how badly he was suffering because he often made light of what the children were saying. Giving an example, Debbey had talked about an incident that her son told her about where he was walking out of a classroom when a girl followed him shouting an anti-LGBTQ term. Though as his mom revealed, her son made a joke of it, despite regularly being told he was going to hell. He just laughed it off and said, “Well, Lil Nas X is down there, it can’t be all that bad.” Did his parents not suspect that things were really bad? Read on to find out.
Talking To The School
However, as Eli was telling his mom some of the things that the kids had said to him in school it got to her. And so she made the decision that after Thanksgiving she would go into school with him and talk with the teachers. She said that they were ready to do so, however on Sunday, November 28th following the holiday, when Debbey went to check on her son in his bedroom, she found him dead from an apparent suicide.
Had No Idea How Bad It Was
The family has found it difficult to deal with the news as they never expected the ridicule from his peers would lead to such drastic actions. As Debbey said speaking to reporters, “He didn’t care, or at least we thought he didn’t care, and that’s what’s really difficult for us because we thought he didn’t care.” Although Eli was loved by his friends and family his parents had said that they had simply failed their son for not knowing the extent of the abuse that he was suffering from.
The school leaders where the 12-year-old boy attended had spoken out since the tragedy and revealed that they were “shocked” and “devastated” by the news of his passing. The school’s superintendent Dr. Tammy Garret also revealed that counselors and support teams were brought in to help students and staff cope. A statement that they had revealed that the middle school plans to work with Eli’s family to look into how to better support “social and emotional” learning in schools.
Eli’s parents had plans to do something for charity, to which they could donate money but didn’t find anything. Debbey had revealed that she had only been able to find a few state and national programs that had focused on bullying which led them to make a decision to launch their own anti-bullying foundation in their son’s honor, and it is something that had kept them going through these difficult days. Rob and Shondelle Lewis, who are the owners of the Penalties Sports Bar & Grill, where the family have been regulars, had set up a GoFundMe to help raise money for the foundation. Their initial goal of $10,000 was quickly met and as of the moment this article was written, they had raised $46,509. On it, the creators of the fund had revealed that on December 9th the Fritchley’s were able to bring his remains home in an adorable Spongebob urn. What are their plans with the foundation?
Gatilhos: suicídio, homofobia.— BryannaNasck (@BryannaNasck) December 11, 2021
Quando alguém reclamar da "militância" LGBTQIA+ é importante que lembremos por que e por quem lutamos e resistimos.
Eli Fritchley de apenas 12 viu na morte como única saída para não sofrer mais bullying e ataques homofóbicos na escola. pic.twitter.com/4Bso9bS0h0
Plan’s For The Future
As the boy’s parents and five brothers cope with the loss of their close one, they are also now putting their energy into working to stop other parents from experiencing the same pain as they have. Debbey had said that her new mission now is to spread awareness about bullying and the tragic effects that it can have on people’s lives. The family is also now working with the boy’s school and the entire school district to create new support programs at middle and high schools. In an interview, the woman said that this is not a fight that she had ever wanted to fight but she is not going to let her son’s passing be for nothing.
Taking Legal Action?
Since Eli’s death has come to light many were wondering what kind of consequences the children who bullied him would face. But as it turns out, Debbey does not want to see them get punished. Instead, the mother of six wants to see them be educated on what they’ve done and that she wants them to maybe spread awareness, adding that they know what they did and it is too late to change that now. During a memorial service for her son, she has also encouraged every student who came to see him to talk to her or their parents or someone at school and also gave advice to parents whose kids might be going through the same thing. Addressing them all she said, “Just listen. I mean we listened, but we didn’t listen to the undertones. We just listened to what he was telling us, and we didn’t stop to think there was something else underneath that. Now I look back, there was. He was telling us. He was screaming out for help.”
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