Last year, middle schooler Ronin Shimizu (pictured) did a very brave thing: He signed up to be the only boy on his school’s cheerleading team. According to sources, 12-year-old Shimizu loved being on the squad. His classmates at Folsom Middle School in California, however, didn’t approve and teased him relentlessly for it, calling him “gay” and hurling other insults his direction. The bullying got to be so severe that eventually Shimizu left Folsom Middle School to be home schooled. Then on Wednesday of this week, his parents found their son dead, the victim of an apparent suicide, though police are not releasing any additional details about the death.
Despite the success of the “It Gets Better” campaign, we’re clearly not reaching all these kids. And while we don’t know for sure that Ronin was gay, it shouldn’t matter. He was bullied and called “gay” by his peers, and no matter what the cause, bullying should not be condoned in our schools. What more can we do to reach kids like Ronin before they take this tragic step?