A 16-year-old bisexual young man, Adam Kizer, from California lost his life by suicide last week after encountering years of devastating bullying. He is survived by his father.
Of the aggressive assaults Adam endured at school, his father, William, told the Advocate, "I don't think the boy went a whole week without somebody messing with him."
Though he was supported by family, friends, and his school's Gay-Straight Alliance when Adam came out as bisexual six months ago, emotional and physical violence from other peers weighed heavily on him. When he was as young as nine years old, the life-threatening abuse from his peers started when they perceived Adam as "different." At that age, Adam narrowly missed being burned alive by escaping when other children tied him to a tree and doused him in gasoline, intending to set him on fire.
As an elementary school student in Wyoming, Adam was expelled, taken from his family, and placed into the juvenile justice system for reportedly fighting classmates who were bullying him. In more recent years, Adam's California classmates would taunt Adam to kill himself and openly mocked his appearance.
Adam suffered from self-harm, post-traumatic stress, and depression, and had attempted suicide prior to losing his life in May, though mental health officials told Adam's family that he was not a threat to himself days before his final attempt to take his life on May 26. He was found by family members who were unable to revive him. Adam was put on life support and passed away four days later.
"He was my best friend," said William. "I can't believe he's gone."
William told the Advocate that he reported the assaults against his son "over and over" to school officials, but "they never did anything." Kathleen Hawing, the Sonoma Valley High School Principal, claims she never heard about the severe bullying Adam experienced. William is reportedly considering taking legal action against the school.
In April, a bisexual teenage girl from Iowa named Alyssa Morgan passed away from suicide, as well. Like Adam, Alyssa's family were supportive of her identity, but she suffered with depression and self-harm in the face of longstanding bullying for being perceived as "different" because she was bisexual. Like Adam's father, Alyssa's mother Nicole struggled to get her daughter's school to take the harassment seriously.
Bullying and suicidality are life-threatening issues plaguing students across the country, and disproportionately impact LGBT youth—especially bisexual members of the community. Bisexual people confront higher rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicidality and other mood disorders compared to straight, lesbian, and gay peers. Recent studies show that 8 out of 10 of all LGBT students experience in-school harassment, and that school staff does nothing about over 60% of reported anti-LGBT bullying cases. These anti-LGBT and biphobic issues are systemic and cultural, and are costing children their lives.
Adam loved playing bass in a heavy metal band, and was a budding advocate for LGBT equality. He participated in weekly rallies with 20-plus fellow GSA members, and posted on Facebook that he was "proud" to be bisexual and part of the LGBT community. 200 young people attended a vigil held in Adam's honor over the weekend and individuals have set up makeshift shrines for him in the neighborhood.
"I stay home all day just waiting for him to come home," Adam's dad said.