Family of gay Utah teen who committed suicide say son's school mishandled situation
David Phan had been suspended on the day he killed himself
When Phuong Tran was called to her son’s middle school in Utah last month, she says school officials did not provide her with any details of why they were suspending David Tran for the day.
‘I asked [the principal] why he was suspending my son,’ Tran tells the Salt Lake City Tribune. ‘He told me: ‘We will discuss on Tuesday.”
But it would soon be too late for that.
After the mother dropped her son off at home and returned to work, 14-year-old David wrote a suicide note then returned to Bennion Junior High School where he shot himself in the head on a sky bridge leading to the campus.
What is known is that school officials had found a condom in the teen’s backpack that day but it’s not known if that alone was the reason for the suspension.
Also, a day earlier, students laughed when David received a ‘singing’ telegram from another boy at a school holiday fundraiser, an incident which his cousin tells the newspaper was mortifying for him even though he laughed it off publicly.
Grappling with their loss, the parents were shocked to hear a school spokesman tell the media information that counselors had been in regular touch with David about ‘issues in his personal life’ and specifically said the boy had not brought up being bullied which classmates said he had been victim of.
‘We have a right to know as parents,’ says his father, Nhuan Phan. ‘Nobody told us anything.’
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah has written a letter to the school district scolding them for making ‘extremely inappropriate’ statements about the boy who had come out the members of his family gradually throughout the previous 12 months.
The parents, who are Vietnamese, are hoping their son’s death will result in better training and procedures in dealing with gay students, especially those from minority cultures.