Tim Gratz emailed me yesterday morning, asking if I had heard of the Key West High School student who had killed himself?
I had not heard of it.
I hope I am not drawn further into this case and given information via the unusual usual channels, which tends to disagree with just about everyone else’s view, not to mention seriously upsetting just about everyone else.
Later, I wrote to Tim:
Having had a child die suddenly and unexpectedly, I cannot imagine a worse trauma for a parent or surviving sibling. Perhaps suicide would make it worse, I don’t know, not having had that experience.
Despite what I wrote to you earlier today, and despite my lament at the end of today’s school board free speech post, that if I never had to deal with FlaKey school stuff again, that wouldn’t be a long enough vacation from dealing with school stuff, it seems I might be getting drawn into this.
What do you recall about the boy’s Facebook farewell to his friends?
By then it was coming to me really strong that FCAT pressure was in play. Click this link:
Then, I reached someone by phone in Key West, who had spoken with a KWHS 9th grader who knew Matthew Gelleran but was not in his 9th grade class. This person said Matthew shot himself, and word around the high school was Matthew was being bullied for a while, and on that terrible day he was bullied all day in class and at one point broke down crying.
This person said it seemed Matthew had two Facebook accounts, and on one he was putting out that he didn’t know if he liked boys or girls. This person wondered if Matthew was being hazed because he might be gay? This person wanted to know where the teacher and other school officials were? I said I wondered the same thing.
This person said Matthew’s father owns the 801 Club, a gay hangout, and Matthew was brought up in that environment, hung out with drag queens, etc. This person said he had heard there might be several KWHS students who had made a pact to kill themselves if the bullying continued.
I said I was reminded of a gay KWHS boy in 2010, who experienced ongoing hazing for being gay, despite his mother’s repeated efforts to get the school officials to intervene. She finally wrote a letter to the editor which appeared in The Citizen. She was on my email list for some time, I knew she was a conch, a lawyer, and former US Military. She told me her son was presenting suicide ideation, she got nowhere with KWHS, school officials blamed her son for bringing it on himself and said he was lying about being gay. The last group of hazers were required to come to school on a Saturday to take sensitivity training.
I tried to get the School Board to intervene, but they sided with the school officials. I tried to get the boy’s mother to bring State Attorney Dennis Ward into it, but she didn’t want to do that. I tried to get Dennis to get into it on his own, but he didn’t. I tried to get the mother to move her son to the charter high school, but she said he was an honors student at KWHS, taking advanced classes not offered at the charter school, and he wanted to stay where he was.
I published several posts about that awful situation.
Later yesterday, Tim Gratz wrote to me about Matthew’s last Facebook entry:
“Could not get a picture of it but I had it read to me. Here is all it said: good bye everyone I am going away for good now. matthew gilleran”
Then, Tim sent me copies of several Facebook entries, three from the same person took me back to FCAT pressure being in play. Unable to copy and paste the entries, I transcribed them:
Friday 8:59 p.m.
ill learn how to spell if you do -_-
Then, at 9:03 p.m.
Arina Alaska Jones
I’m worried that he did something drastic. Or that his parents found out about his account …
Found this on Facebook this morning:
Judy Jack … heavy hearted today, and I think I can speak for a few Key Westers…I never liked “The Emperor’s New Clothes” as a child growing up, because it dealt with what was being said and what was real..I hate that, of all accepting communities, ours was the victim of a bullying incident that hits too close to home…my love, light, and strength goes out to the Gilleran family…I lived in a time when being called “sissy” was enough to make me run home and have solace in the fact that I wouldn’t have to see the bullies until tomorrow at school…we live in a different world, now….there’s going to be an vacant seat in the classroom tomorrow…my one hope is that the bullies involved will feel accountable rather than entitlement…I love our town, and I love the families involved…it’s tragic beyond belief…I’… See Morem heartsick…it’s lasted all day…our “One Human Family” is flaking away in it’s meaning…parents, educate your children–they are the product of your half in the bag conversation…I go to sleep tonight hoping I’ll awake to the Key West that I fell in love with 20 years ago…I’m still an island boy with lofty aspirations…RIP, Matthew…I feel as a community, we failed you…as a Fresh Water Conch–14 years running–I’ll make it my goal to have it never happen again…light and love, Jimmy–to you and all of your family…there are no words…there’s only tomorrow…. from mark w…jj