THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Bullying links feared in suicide

By Juan A. Lozano
Associated Press / October 2, 2010

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HOUSTON — Prosecutors said yesterday that they will look into what led to the suicide of a 13-year-old Houston boy whose parents say was relentlessly bullied at his middle school for two years because of his religion and sexual orientation.

Asher Brown’s parents, who allege that school officials ignored their pleas for help, said they hope “justice will be served’’ by the investigation by the Harris County district attorney’s office.

“Once they find out what’s been hidden, we would want the people responsible to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,’’ said Brown’s stepfather, David Truong.

Brown shot himself in the head with his stepfather’s handgun Sept. 23 at his family’s home.

Truong said his son, a straight-A student who loved to read, had been ridiculed by students at school because he was small, a Buddhist, and didn’t wear designer clothes. This summer, Brown converted to Christianity in the hope students would no longer make fun of his religion, Truong said.

Truong said students also made fun of Brown because they believed he was gay. Truong said while he and Brown’s mother, Amy, suspected their son was gay, the teen didn’t confirm this to him until the day of his suicide.

“I told him, ‘We’ll talk about it when you get home.’ I told him, ‘You know your mother and I support you,’’ Truong said. “He told me, ‘Have a good day.’ I said, ‘Have a good day son.’ That was the last time I spoke to my son.’’

Truong found the teen’s body when he returned from work later that day.

The Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District has previously said no one — Brown’s parents, fellow students, or school employees — reported the eighth-grader was being bullied. The district said it is conducting a thorough investigation into the allegations of bullying against Brown. The district did not immediately respond to a request for further comment yesterday.

Truong said he and his wife called, e-mailed, and visited with counselors and other school officials about what was happening to their son but their concerns “fell on deaf ears.’’

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