An openly-gay 17-year old boy committed suicide in Rochester, Minnesota on Sunday, and his father is blaming anti-gay bullying as “a big part” of the cause of his son’s death. Jay ‘Corey’ Jones, also known as Corey Jay Jonestrader on his Facebook page, was a student at Century High School, and was bullied for years his father, JayBocka Strader, says.
“He said all of his life they always picked on him. He’d still try to keep his head up at school, but then he’d come home and be really sad about it,” Strader says, in a report at the Post Bulletin:
Jones, a member of Century’s gay-straight alliance, had an image on his Facebook page that said, “Gay & Proud.” He was open about his sexuality and occasionally wore tight, colorful tank tops and short-shorts to school, Strader said.
“He just got really depressed about it because the guys weren’t accepting him,” Strader said.
Jones jumped from a pedestrian bridge near Century High School on Sunday, according to police.
In response to an inquiry from the Post-Bulletin, schools Superintendent Michael Muñoz issued a statement acknowledging there are issues related to bullying in the district. He did not directly address Jones’ situation.
The district is in the planning stages of providing training and support for students, staff and families, Muñoz said, and will continue anti-bullying collaborations with Gov. Mark Dayton’s recently formed anti-bullying task force, Rochester police and others in the community.
“I want everyone to have on pink shirts and remember the Corey that tried to get the rights,” Strader said. Pink was one of Jones’ favorite colors, his dad said.
“When I saw him in pink, I really liked him in pink, and he was really happy,” Strader said. “I just told him that pink looked good on him.”
A report on Minnesota Public Radio yesterday added:
Last year, Jones told his dad, Jay Strader, he was gay. Strader immediately noticed a change.
“I just saw a difference in him I saw a smile, I saw a little more energy than actually being down and out and depressed-looking,” Strader said. “To me he felt a sign of relief, like, ‘Yeah I got over the hard part, right,’ you know.”
But coming out exposed Jones to other pressures, Strader said, primarily from bullies at school. Jones moved to Minnesota from Chicago two years ago. He lived in Minneapolis for a year before moving down to Rochester.
Strader said his son was comfortable with his sexual orientation. But the teasing Jones encountered at school turned into a constant struggle for him and he was diagnosed with depression.
“I wanted him to let me know what was going on with him. I didn’t get a chance to get that,” Strader. “I didn’t get a chance to find out what was going on inside his head.”
Strader said his son’s death Sunday has not sunk in yet. It’s been an emotional week for his family and him, as well as for many high school students in southeastern Minnesota.
Minnesota is currently the stage for a contentious battle for an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The funeral for Jay ‘Corey’ Jones will be held in Chicago on Saturday.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
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