Kenneth Weishuhn
Name at BirthKenneth James "Rodney" Weishuhn Jr.
BornMay 27, 1997
DiedApril 15, 2012 (aged 14)
Place of deathPaullina, Iowa
Alma materSouth O'Brien High School
ParentsKenneth J. Weishuhn Sr. and Jeannie Chambers (née Barrows)
Known For:Suicide

Kenneth Weishuhn (May 27, 1997 - April 15, 2012) was a young teen who is known for his suicide which raised the national profile on gay bullying and LGBT youth suicides.

Kenneth James "Rodney" Weishuhn Jr. attended South O'Brien High School as a freshman in Paullina, Iowa, along with his sister Kayla, a sophomore.[1] Weishuhn, then 14 years old, was bullied in person, death threats were sent to his mobile phone, and he was the subject of a Facebook hate group. He was targeted for being gay, having come out one month before his suicide. Weishuhn told his mother Jeannie Chambers "Mom, you don't know how it feels to be hated." The bullying was characterized as "aggressive",[2] "merciless"[3] and "overwhelming".[4] In response to the bullying, Weishuhn took his own life in April 2012.[5] He hanged himself in the family's garage and was discovered in the early morning hours on April 15, 2012 by stepfather Kenny Chambers. Kayla stated "The sound of his scream traumatized me for the longest time."[6][7]

A vigil was held at the Cedar Rapids 1st Avenue Bridge on April 24, 2012. A Facebook group dedicated to Weishuhn's memory gained about 1500 followers within the week of his suicide, which is double the amount of people in his home town.[8] Funeral services were held at Grace Lutheran Church in Primghar, Iowa and burial at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Primghar.[2]

Aftermath Edit

Weishuhn's suicide prompted nationwide coverage of bullying and its effect on LGBT youth. Coverage of the suicide and the bullying that prompted it appeared in the Huffington Post,[5] the Washington Post,[9] Queerty,[10] Fox News,[11] the Sioux City Journal,[2] Daily Kos[12] and many other outlets.

USA Today questioned if bullies should be treated as criminals in reference to Weishuhn and his suicide and announced "Tragic suicides such as K.J.'s have galvanized educators into a zero-tolerance stance on bullying, and a recent analysis by the U.S. Department of Education shows that state lawmakers nationwide are increasingly willing to criminalize bullying behavior, even as experts wonder whether doing so will have the intended effect: to curb the behavior and improve the learning atmosphere."[13]

The Des Moines Register wrote "Kenneth Weishuhn’s name has been invoked far and wide in the struggle to stem bullying and advance gay rights" and reported on singer Madonna flashing Weishuhn’s photo on stage in the middle of her European concert tour.[7]

Weishuhn's mother has said she was unsure if she wants to pursue charges against the school or the bullies. She stated "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."[10] Later in 2012, prosecutors could not find sufficient evidence to prosecute anyone for specific criminal acts. As laws in Iowa do not cover bullying, O'Brien County Sheriff Michael Anderson said he agreed with the decision not to file charges.[14]

Family troubles Edit

Weishuhn's suicide was hard on the family, with sister Kayla stating she was "traumatized" by events and still had to attend school with the bullies through the remainder of her high school years.[7]

Mother Jeannie Chambers spent 6.5 years in a federal penitentiary for manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine. After the prison sentence, Chambers was to be on supervised release for the next 8 years.

Stepfather Kenny Chambers previously was battling testicular cancer, but as of late 2013 he was in remission. Kenny served 60 months for the same methamphetamine charge, as compared to Jeannie's 90 months. Both entered their plea agreements in February 2005 and had served time and been released by Weishuhn's suicide.[15]

See alsoEdit

References Edit

  1. Johnson, Kristen. "Family: Bullies pushed NW Iowa teen to take own life", 16 April 2012. Retrieved on 21 March 2014. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Horlyk, Earl. Sister: Bullying led Primghar teen to suicide. Sioux City Journal. Retrieved on 21 March 2014.
  3. Swartley, Kristen. Anti-Bullying Vigil Held in Cedar Falls In Response to Gay Iowa Teen's Suicide. Retrieved on 21 March 2014.
  4. Hector, Marypat. Bullied To DEATH!. Global Grind. Retrieved on 21 March 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Kenneth Weishuhn, Gay Iowa Teen, Commits Suicide After Allegedly Receiving Death Threats", 17 April 2012. Retrieved on 21 March 2014. 
  6. "Munson: Year after bullied teen's death, family has seen his story spread". Retrieved on 21 March 2014. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Munson, Kyle. Munson: Year after bullied teen's death, family has seen his story spread. Des Moines Register. Retrieved on 21 March 2014.
  8. Badash, David. 14-Year Old Suicide Victim Was Receiving Death Threats For Being Gay. The New Civil Rights Movement. Retrieved on 21 March 2014.
  9. D'Arcy, Janice. Sioux City Journal editorial shines a light on bullying same weekend "Bully" comes out. Washington Post. Retrieved on 21 March 2014.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Mulvihill, Evan. "Heartbreaking Details Emerge In Suicide Of Out Iowa Teen Kenneth Weishuhn", 18 April 2012. Retrieved on 21 March 2014. 
  11. Iowa mom blames gay teen son's suicide on bullying. Retrieved on 21 March 2014.
  12. JustLeft@DailyKos. I am so ashamed. Daily Kos. Retrieved on 21 March 2014.
  13. Toppo, Greg. Should bullies be treated as criminals?. USA Today. Retrieved on 21 March 2014.
  14. UPDATE: No criminal charges in death of bullied Iowa teen. WCF Courier. Retrieved on 21 March 2014.
  15. "Primghar Residents Sentenced On Federal Meth Charges", 3 February 2005. Retrieved on 21 March 2014. 
Wikipedialogo This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Kenneth Weishuhn. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.. As with LGBT Info, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

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