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His 16-year-old brother, who had also experienced bullying at school, was the one who found Andy Leach, 12, dead in the family home in Southaven, Miss., on March 6.
The sixth-grader at Southaven Middle School had left his family a suicide note before he hanged himself in the garage out back of the house, according to WREG.
Now his father, Matt Leach, says the bullying Andy was subjected to at school intensified after his son came out as bisexual during a confrontation with his bullies.
“One of the kids said ‘you’re this’ or ‘you’re that.’ And he said ‘no, I’m bi-,’ Matt Leach told the news station. “And I think that really amped up the bullying.”
Andy’s mother, Cheryl Hudson, told the Jackson Clarion Ledger that bullying is a frequent and dangerous problem at Southaven Middle School, which lies just south of the Mississippi/Tennessee state line.
“A few years ago there was a young girl who hung herself from a water tower due to bullying. There have been several attempts since then with other kids,” Hudson told the newspaper. “From what we are hearing, there was a group of kids that would go around calling [Andy] fat, ugly and worthless.”
A statement from DeSoto County School District obtained by WREG did not specify whether administrators were aware of claims that Andy Leach was being bullied.
“All bullying reports are treated with the utmost importance. Students and parents are encouraged to contact school officials anytime there are bullying concerns, and they can use a link on the DeSoto County Schools website if they would prefer to report bullying incidents anonymously. All claims are investigated thoroughly, and school counselors are trained to help students and intervene when they are aware of a situation,” the statement said. “Our hearts go out to this young student’s friends and family.”
Andy’s funeral was Friday.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34 percent of students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual have been bullied on school property, and 10 percent reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.
Stopbullying.gov research found that 84.6 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40 percent reported being physically harassed and nearly 19 percent reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.