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Tennessee 7th grader kills himself after anti-LGBTQ+ bullying

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Eli Fritchley via 'Justice for Eli We Must Stop the Bullying' GoFundme page

SHELBYVILLE, Tn. –  A 12-year-old boy took his own life after enduring apparent months of what his family and others labeled ugly vitriolic anti-LGBTQ bullying and abuse.

Eli Fritchley, a seventh-grader at Cascades Middle school located in Wartrace in Bedford County, was found on Sunday night, November 28th, 2021, by his mother who walked into her son’s bedroom and discovered his lifeless body.

In an emotional interview with Nashville ABC news affiliate WKRN 2‘s reporter Stephanie Langston, Fritchley’s parents described him “as a peaceful soul who wasn’t afraid to be himself.”

“He didn’t care, or at least we thought he didn’t care, and that’s what’s really difficult for us because we thought he didn’t care,” his parents said as they teared up.

Eli painted his nails, loved the color pink and wore the same SpongeBob sweatshirt nearly every day.

“I think probably because he was in the same clothes every single day that they used that as a weapon,” his mom Debbey explained, saying he loved doing the laundry and cleaning his clothes every day.

His parents told Langston that their son was not accepted by his peer group at the school.

“He was told because he didn’t necessarily have a religion and that he said he was gay that he was going to go to Hell. They told him that quite often,” said Debbey.

His parents heard his cries but didn’t realize the extent of the pain that the youth was experiencing adding that their son never blamed anyone.

“It was really abusive. I don’t think it was ever physical. I think it was just words, but words hurt. They really hurt,” said his father Steve.

“This has just blindsided us. This is something we would have never, ever expected,” his mother added. “That’s been really hard. That image was terrible until we got to hold him yesterday. Now that image is gone, because the only thing we could think of yesterday when we were kissing and loving on him was how angelic he looked. He absolutely looked angelic. He’s just an angel,” she cried adding, “We all failed him. We all failed him. It’s as simple as that.”

The parents told Langston that they are determined to stop bullying adding that they hope raising awareness will ensure that other kids or their parents goes through the heartache they are experiencing.

“I honestly think education, education, education for everyone where bullying is concerned because it is a problem, not just in Bedford County. It’s a problem everywhere,” they said.

According to WKRN 2, “the Fritchleys were regulars at Penalties Sports Bar & Grill in Shelbyville. The owners of the restaurant, Rob and Shondelle Lewis, say they are like family and they are heartbroken over the loss of Eli. In an effort to help, they created a Gofundme as the Fritchleys are looking to start a foundation to bring awareness and help educate people about bullying and suicide awareness.”

I hope and pray, this unfortunate event we are going to make something of it. We’ve got to. We are going to come up with some sort of antibullying program through this Gofundme page where I pray to God this will not happen again,” said Rob.”

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health examined depression and suicide risk among LGBTQ youth from rural areas and small towns compared to urban and suburban areas.

The Key Finding was that nearly half of LGBTQ youth in rural areas and small towns reported that their community was somewhat or very unaccepting of LGBTQ people compared to just over a quarter of those in urban and suburban areas. The data also shows that LGBTQ youth living in rural areas and small towns had slightly greater odds of depression and attempting suicide.

If you or someone you know are feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are an LGBTQ+ youth and need help, you can reach out to The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text 678678 to talk to someone 24/7.

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Bedford County parents grieve son bullied before suicide

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Tennessee

Felony arrest in vandalism of Pride Merch at Knoxville Target store

Jonathan Burns was arrested after he was identified by investigators as the suspect in spray-painting a section of LGBTQ+ Pride merchandise

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Arrest mugshot of Jonathan Burns courtesy of the Knox County, Tennessee Sheriff's Office

KNOXVILLE – A thirty-one-year-old West Knox resident was arrested last week by the Knoxville Police Department, with the help of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, and charged with felony vandalism at a local Target store.

Jonathan Burns was arrested after he was identified by investigators as the suspect in spray-painting a section of LGBTQ+ Pride clothing & merchandise.

Knoxville NBC News affiliate WBIR-TV, Channel 10 reported:

On June 13 at 2:49 p.m., Burns entered the Target on Parkside Drive and spray-painted an entire section of merchandise placed out for Pride Month, KPD said. 

Burns damaged $3,884 worth of clothing, according to KPD. They also said he used red spray paint to destroy the entire section of items as well as a sign in the section, and it was the only section that was vandalized. The sign cost an additional $16 in damages. 

An employee had approached Burns and asked him to leave, according to a KPD report.

When Burns left the Target, he dropped the spray paint can on the ground. Fingerprints on the can confirmed Burns’ identity. Evidence of him purchasing the spray paint and a bucket hat from local retail prior to the incident was secured. Video from Target and the retailer where the paint and hat were purchased depicted Burns wearing the same clothing, the report said.

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Tennessee

GOP congressional candidate: Homosexuality and Transgenderism are evil

“LGBQT+ movement seeks to destabilize our country with divisive rhetoric-Transgenderism and Pedophilia are now rampant in our society”

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Graphic by Stewart Parks for US Congress TN 5th District Campaign

NASHVILLE – A Republican contender for the Congressional seat currently held by retiring Tennessee Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper announced that he seeking to outlaw Pride, same-sex marriage, and trans people if elected.

In a Facebook post, Stewart Parks, who labels himself a “Republican Southern Christian Conservative Values” politician wrote:

If you elect me, this month will be the last National Gay Pride month ever celebrated. We need to elect people into US congress that will stand up and say Homosexuality and Transgenderism are evil.

I will push to have the 2015 Obergefel vs Hodges ruling overturned which legalized same sex marriage. Two men and two women cannot come close to a unified man and woman married. I want to bring back DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) which safeguarded the institution of marriage.

Sexual Liberation is NOT western values. LGBQT+ movement is communist as they seek to destabilize our country with their divisive rhetoric and destroy families. Transgenderism and Pedophilia are now rampant in our society.

We have to ban it asap and safeguard our children against it. We have to get Transgenderism out of our schools.

When I win this election everyone will know their gender again🎉🎉🎉 the populace will know Men cannot get pregnant and can actively define a woman.”

Photo via Stewart Parks for US Congress TN 5th District Campaign

In a 2022 candidate survey by Ballotpedia, Parks was asked about his political positions:

Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?

  • End Abortion Forever
  • Impeach Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Kentanji Brown Jackson.
  • Ban Transgenderism, Same Sex Marriage, Left Wing Radicalization in our Schools

What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

Ending abortion FOREVER! 1973 Roe vs Wade legalized the slaughtering of babies and must be overturned ASAP. The far left has deceived and lied their way into our school systems to the point our students have no idea what gender they are. I will ban Transgenderism and remove this horrible idea from our way of life. 2015 Obergefel vs Hodges was one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever made. The ruling legalized same sex marriages which is an erroneous idea. Marriage is only between one man and one woman. The far left wants to keep the pandemic alive. Stewart Parks says the pandemic is over! The communist Chinese government intentionally created the virus in the Wuhan lab and leaked it to the world to advance the communist new world order. Communism and Socialism is evil and must be removed from our way of life!

Is there a book, essay, film, or something else you would recommend to someone who wants to understand your political philosophy?

The Bible

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Tennessee

Tennessee bans collegiate Trans athletes

The law also requires Tennessee colleges to determine a student-athlete’s gender using the student’s “original” birth certificate

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Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Lee/State of Tennessee YouTube

NASHVILLE – Republican Governor Bill Lee signed a bill last Friday that effectively bans transgender women from competing on college sports teams consistent with their gender identity in Tennessee.

The new law, Senate Bill 2153, “prohibits males from participating in public higher education sports that are designated for females.” The law also requires Tennessee colleges to determine a student-athlete’s gender using the student’s “original” birth certificate.

Every university and college in the state will also be required to adopt and enforce a policy ensuring compliance with the new law. The measure would also prevent any government entity, organization or athletic association from taking “an adverse action” against a school that complies with the law or a student who reports a violation.

“This law sends a horrible message that trans and nonbinary youth can be excluded from the many benefits of participating in sports,” Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, said Friday in a statement issued by the Human Rights Campaign. 

“More broadly, it also stains those who are complicit and creates habits of lawmaking that endanger everyone in Tennessee,” he said. “Legislation crafted from animus and ignorance protects no one.”

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