Seth Walsh- A Gentleness That Lives On
Some day you’ll learn that lies, injustice, and hypocrisy are a part of every ordinary community. Most people achieve a sort of protective immunity, a kind of callousness, toward them. If they didn’t, they couldn’t endure.
Nella Larsen (1891 - 1964)
U.S. novelist, nurse, and librarian.
We live in a world that is as diverse as the number of people that inhabit this planet. Yet, a sad fact remains that as different as we are there is an ingrained belief within us that makes us think whatever isn’t within our comfort zone or is a little different from what those near us tell us is right, is actually wrong. When that bubble that surrounds us is burst by something alien, the most common reaction is to go on the defensive. The only problem is: most defensive actions open the door to violence.
This brings us to the story of Seth Walsh. He was a student at Jacobsen Middle School in Tehachapi, Kern County, California. He was a gentle child that was loved by two brothers, a sister and a single mother that worked hard to support the family. To Seth nothing beat French fries. He loved Pokémon and was obsessed with Disco. Seth was 13 years old when he hanged himself on a tree, in his own backyard, on September 19th, 2010 and died 8 days later on the 27th.
The fact that he preferred the company of girls, avoided confrontation and didn’t care that much for sports in the fourth grade were just the beginning of his woes. By the fifth and sixth grades things were getting out of control as the bullying from class- and schoolmates who had found out that he had realized he was gay and come out about it, intensified to the point that he had nowhere to hide. They were everywhere: if it wasn’t at school they were online, if it wasn’t in the hallways he was bullied on his way home.
One human trait that needs to be applauded is that we are capable of learning from our mistakes. Despite the fact that there was an anti-bullying program in his school, and that neither the school officials nor the school board did anything to help him and even after a police investigation could find no criminal intent on the part of his bullies, his death wasn’t in vain.
Far from that, his story from this quiet community touched the hearts of people all over the world. It touched people so deeply that it has led to lawmakers making a move on bullying in schools in California. Named ‘Seth’s Law’ in honor of Seth Walsh, a bill was passed on September 1st, 2011. Signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on October 9th, it is designed to tackle the pervasive problem that is school bullying by giving the schools tools to help create a safe educational environment for all students.
The memory of Seth Walsh will live on forever in the lives of children that will be protected by Seth’s Law.