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

Family of gay Utah teen who committed suicide say son’s school mishandled situation
17 December 2012

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.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Hundreds support Vietnam gay play

Despite heavy rains, hundreds of people, flocked to Ho Chi Minh City’s Opera House for a gay themed drama in an unprecedented show of support for the LGBT community
No thumbnail available

Drag queen banned from Scottish TV over fears 'kids would ask questions'

Bee Fiarse said he is ‘totally and utterly flabbergasted’ by what happened, describing the producers as ‘prejudiced’
No thumbnail available

Tens of thousands march for LGBTI pride in Istanbul

Thousands marched in Turkey over the weekend in the largest gay pride event seen in any majority Muslim country on Earth
No thumbnail available

David Cameron tells Tory rebels to be 'grown ups' over gay marriage

Conservatives and religious leaders continue equal marriage backlash, with one senior Catholic bishop likening the PM to Roman emperor Nero
No thumbnail available

Ellen DeGeneres jokes about the pros and cons about being the next Oscar host

Con: 'It's going to take 45 minutes to dance through all those aisles'
No thumbnail available

Will ABC's Grey's Anatomy play out TV's first lesbian divorce?

The marriage of Callie and Arizona is rocked by infidelity
No thumbnail available

Russian man blinded by anti-gay shooting speaks out

Amnesty International have called on the Russian authorities to arrest the masked men responsible for the violent attack in St Petersburg
No thumbnail available

Chris Morgan wins British powerlifting championship

Gay Games champion is on track for the world powerlifting contest later this year
No thumbnail available

Gays flock to see Prince Harry topless at London bar

The homoerotic mural of the British royal, which has a growing fanbase, can be seen in a Soho gay bar
No thumbnail available

Sydney's first transgender film festival starts on Monday

Eleven short films and three features will be shown next week, creating a 'screen hub for transgender communities'