FENTON, MI Linden High School junior Josh Pacheco, 17, took his own life on November 27th at his home in Fenton, Michigan. His family is speaking out about the bullying which resulted in the teen's death.
Equality Michigan, the state's only statewide anti-violence and advocacy organization specifically serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities, has been advocating for victims of anti-LGBT and anti-HIV related bullying, discrimination, harassment and violence in Michigan for over 20 years. The organization played a lead role in a coalition effort that successfully passed anti-bullying legislation in Michigan. Legislation which went into effect at school districts like Fenton earlier this year.
While the school district and school which Josh attended are taking the appropriate steps to enforce newly passed anti-bullying policies, they were simply not ready soon enough to help save Josh. One such measure is an "Eagle Hotline" that students in Fenton can call to report bullying, which went live days after Josh's death, and can now be reached at 810-373-2131.
Other services, such as the Trevor Hotline - 866-488-7386 - a national support hotline for LGBT youth with an international reputation for suicide prevention, are also available for youth seeking support. While these efforts have been successful at increasing stories of survival, they are in an ongoing struggle to keep up with the viral nature of bullying in the United States.
Statement by Emily Dievendorf
Director of Policy, Equality Michigan
"The family and friends of Josh Pacheco are in the thoughts and prayers of everyone here at Equality Michigan. The loss of a child is an unimaginable tragedy no community should ever have to face. Yet stories of promising futures ending way too soon have become painful reminders of how important efforts to end bullying in our schools are. Bullying is not a ritual every child must endure on their path to adulthood, it is an epidemic which is claiming the lives of our young people.
"Equality Michigan is proud of the legislation which is helping to increase awareness of this important issues in our schools. However, that is only the beginning of a process which will take years to complete. We must address the root cause of bullying - a climate where young people feel empowered to spew hatred at their peers. With leaders of the anti-gay and hate-for-pay industries offering hateful content for these young people to recite, it is no wonder the epidemic has escalated to such deadly levels.
"The leaders of the anti-gay and hate-for-pay industries have blood on their hands. It is time for them to put an end to their mantra of hate and replace it with civil and reasoned arguments. We welcome that dialogue, but insist that their current tactics be called for what they are, hate filled rhetoric designed to advance their political agenda and increase the divisiveness of our current political climate. Josh's death is a painful reminder that the cost of their unsuccessful strategy is too high and its end is long overdue."
NCAVP learns of the bullying-related suicide of gay Michigan youth, Josh Pacheco
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) has learned of the bulling-related death of 17-year old Josh Pacheco of Fenton, Michigan. Josh's parents have been vocal about linking his death to anti-gay bullying that he experienced both inside and outside of school.
NCAVP is working with Equality Michigan, an NCAVP member organization in Detroit, to offer our assistance with their efforts to support the community during this difficult time. Equality Michigan's statement on Josh's death can be read here.
NCAVP is a resource for anyone who experiences violence. For more information, or to locate an anti-violence program in your area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ncavp.org .
Join NCAVP in our efforts to prevent and respond to LGBTQH violence. To learn more about our national advocacy and receive technical assistance or support, contact us at email@example.com .
NCAVP works to prevent, respond to, and end all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and HIV-affected (LGBTQH) communities. NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change. NCAVP is a program of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.