Her Name Was Taylor

Photo Cred: Yahoo! Parenting via xxtayloralesanaxx/Instagram)

Photo Cred: Yahoo! Parenting via xxtayloralesanaxx/Instagram

My heart is sad today for 16-year-old Taylor Alesana of Fallbrook, California. Taylor, a transgender high school student, committed suicide after being bullied and harassed at school.

“When you’re a kid, parents always tell you sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you,” Taylor said. “To me that’s not true. Words hurt, and words turn up to threats and threats turn up to physical violence.”

Popular for her YouTube make-up tutorials, Taylor encouraged other transgender teens to protect themselves by reporting bullying to school administrators and law enforcement.  She had followed her own advice and was also seeking support at the North County LGBTQ Resource Center.

The sadness in my heart shares space with anger. Taylor lived just one hour from my home; so, as a fellow Californian, I can tell you that the California Department of Education did nothing to help Taylor.

California’s safe school laws are comprehensive and advanced in comparison to other states. California leads the nation in establishing laws to protect perceived and confirmed LGBTQ kids and, then, the state fails these kids miserably by not enforcing the laws.

The California Department of Education Office of Equal Opportunity was created to investigate complaints of bullying and discrimination throughout California and enforce the state’s excellent safe school laws and education codes.

BUT, the California Department of Education Office of Equal Opportunity has not investigated a single claim of discrimination filed by or on behalf of students across the state. The office’s failure to enforce anti-bullying laws has resulted in dangerous, system-wide ignorance and unaccountability in California’s schools. The Education Office of Equal Opportunity doesn’t even log or track appeals.

The on-going systemic failure is detailed in the scathing 2013 California State Auditor’s Office’s report summarized here: https://www.bsa.ca.gov/reports/summary/2012-108

Read more about The California Department of Education Office of Equal Opportunity’s failures in a blog post I wrote following the suicide of 12-year-old Californian Ronin Shimizu in December.

If you want to do something to help LGBTQ kids and their families in California, please email and/or phone State Superintendent Tom Torlakson’s office and let him know that ignoring the situation at California Department of Education Office of Equal Opportunity is dangerous and must stop. Please join me in demanding that California Department of Education Office of Equal Opportunity be restructured, appropriately resourced and that it become computerized now…before we lose one more young person. Torlakson can be reached at 916-319-0800
and EHughes@cde.ca.gov.

If you or a young LGBTQ person you know is thinking about suicide, please call The Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. For adults over the age of 24, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


About raisingmyrainbow

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41 Responses to Her Name Was Taylor

  1. amindele says:

    This is just sick. She was just a kid. Our anti-bullying practices are a joke. How many suicides have to happen before people step it up and start accepting people for who they are?

  2. swoolfor says:

    This saddens me on so many levels. Firstly, I think why can’t kids stay kids? We inundate them with media that forces them to conquer adult topics far earlier than I ever had to as a child. It’s not right and I think the way our world has changed in the last 30 years, even has a big part in why things like this are happening. On a lot of levels, we’ve hit huge breakthroughs for the LGBT community. People are coming out to acceptance, we are fighting for equal marriage rights, but there is still so much ground to cover here. We need to bridge the gap between teaching our children acceptance and love and keeping them innocent for as long as possible. As a child I would NEVER have thought to threatened someone else’s life. NEVER. What is happening that kids already facing difficulties and personal challenges can’t be accepted and still, STILL made to feel like this? This is just so sad. I pray for her family to find strength and healing during this awful time.

    • Joshua says:

      My heart breaks when I hear tragic stories of LGBTQ youths who commit suicide because they are bullied at school and/or online and the system (schools/provincial/state lawmakers), fail to protect them and/or enforce – or even enact legislation that should protect them. People need to be more open-minded, and that includes adults and children . LGBTQ youth need to know thy have support not just home, but in the community and in their schools. Too many of our LGBTQ youth are ending their lives because they are not getting the protection they need and deserve – and it has to stop!

  3. cnoellek says:

    To me, how a person identifies and their sexuality are just facts, just like their favorite color and their favorite animal. It does not define who they are and I wish that more people would see that. Things like this are so taboo with some people to talk about and it’s such a shame. I hope that one day, there will come a time where sexuality is not even questioned or thought of as controversial and taboo; it won’t be viewed as weird or unconventional. There are a lot more important things happening in the world than worrying about who is sleeping with who. America needs to prioritize.

  4. Pingback: Now with wings | I am a Person

  5. M.Q. Benson says:

    I don’t understand why people want to make life so hard for gays/lesbians and transgender people. Life is already hard on them from having to come out to their parents, friends and other loved ones as well as trying to understand and love themselves.

  6. i made a video on this awhile ago, and i make videos to help people in the transgender community. this is a weird thing to go thru, but you are never truely alone in your journey. https://youtu.be/GmFKqC44s9c

  7. Marti Brown says:

    I sent an email. So sad. 😦

  8. Isabelle says:

    Hoping that the sadness and anger so many of us are feeling will give us the strength to start forcing schools and other organizations to make real changes to keep our kids safe.

    • mdaniels4 says:

      Ok. This is somethonh i don’t get. Never have. we as adults have jobs. In our jobs thete is racism and homophobia. Ok. I get That. Bottom line is NONE OF THAT would be tolerated for a heartbeat in our jobs. Those who were vocal in their misbeliefs would be out of there in a nanosecond. Our kids have jobs too. Its called school when you’re young. So can anyone tell me why THAT job doesn’t have the same standards as our adult jobs??? So let’s start calling this for what it is. It’s disruptive to their jobs, it is plain wrong and if i’m an adult that wouldn’t tolerate it, then why the hell should i expect my kids to put up with it in their job?

      • MM says:

        I think you just said that there is never open racism or open homophobia in the work world????

      • mdaniels4 says:

        No MM. What i said was we don’t tolerate open racism and homophobia in the workplace and when it happens it’s dealt with harshly and swiftly. To be fair the vast majority of the time that is. But i never said never.

      • MM says:

        Okay. I guess my sense of how often it is harshly and swiftly may be somewhat different from yours. I hope your sense if it is more correct than mine. I suppose a lot depends on personal experiences. I have not seen large amounts of open homophobia and racism, but I also have not seen it dealt with swiftly and harshly. More like shoulder shrugging.

      • mdaniels4 says:

        I think that individual experience is what it boils down to almost with anything MM. I’ve worked in large corporations almost all my life and things have changed drastically over time in this regard. In many years past, within the last 20 anyway it went from a more hostile environment for the individual who was different in any way to one where a sensitive individual, maybe too sensitive controlled just about everything related to this subject. I had a co worker almost fired within the last two years because he was so frustrated with a situation he said to get a noose because he was finding it preferable to hang himself rather than continue a disagreement. It was an allegory, like putting nails in one’s head, not a threat. That comment was turned in to hr by a black woman who found it “offensive” from her experience and viewpoint. There was holy heck to be paid for that one. In smaller places without the diversity it may be different but i haven’t had that experience. The last bastion of this though is men who aren’t traditionally stereotypical manly men. We have many gay fellows in my workplace and i never hear a comment there about that. Nobody would be dumb enough to do that out loud and if they did they’d be harshly dealt with. Mainly because the corporation fears liability of any sort and if you said something like that YOU would be a liability. But some snide comments could yet still be made about a guy who might wear pink reading glasses or god forbid have his nails polished and a better than average chance HE’D be the one talked to for violating a dress code statement of some sort. We have young women in the office with visible tats and piercings and no one comments there. But a guy exhibiting feminine things is still fair game. And that will change too. Look at the changes in just such a short time. People want change to come quickly and it usually does when a critical mass of consciousness shift occurs. But as it starts to gel people get excited and emboldened and push for it to be quicker, which sometimes delays it from happening sooner because of resistance.

        Which is why this blog appears and is important. It’s contributing to the consciousness raising of this topic and while the change is not fast enough for most of us here it will happen and folks like Taylor and cj and leelah will no longer have to bear the brunt of it for their individual expression. So that’s a positive in the long run but of course not for the immediate future. Thanks for the comment.

  9. David Hubert says:

    This makes me heartsick. Just think what the world has lost The possibllities that were just quashed by the death of this young woman.

  10. Michelle says:

    I just had another suicide talk with Jeremy last night. Zie’s attending school about once a week at this point. Ironically zir peers are great. Zir teachers on the other hand…

    We are losing such bright, vibrant, and creative teens. Our world is diminished without their sparkle.

    • MM says:

      OMG yes. So diminished. It’s so hard for me to handle the loss. Please let us know how we can help support you and / or Jeremy. I’m not kidding. I don’t have money to give but I do have time and empathy and an Internet connection I am great at finding resources (even stuff that sounds fanciful). And I can ask pretty much anyone anything (which helps with finding resources). And other people might have money even tho I don’t. Point being this matters, and you both may be needing some support and help and hugs and whatever. I don’t know what, but maybe you do?

  11. I’ve just written to Superintendent Torlakson.

    Our community has recently suffered the loss of Esme Page, a high school student who ended her life over issues with her sexuality. It angers me that more wasn’t being done to help these precious children.

    Thank you, Lori, for your tireless work for a better world for all of our children. Sending you much love, as always.

  12. Afrin. says:

    I cannot even begin with what’s wrong with people. I was bullied too in high school. I cannot imagine anyone else going through that.

  13. mdaniels4 says:

    I really wish there was a way to get the message out to these troubled kids that there are lots of folks, gaya, straight and Trans that are here for them to talk to. Suicide of any sort needs not happen as things really do change. Ask many suicide failures. Notwithstanding the specific issues many many many of us are out here to lend a helping hand. It’s just to hard to reach us though. So sorry Taylor.

  14. tinecrane says:

    The California Department of Education Office of Equal Opportunity needs to be sued for failure to perform (and wrongful death). Is this happening?

    Maybe an outside organization should track their follow up and publicize it. Gloria Allred type needs to rip them a new one…

    I’m so sorry for this senseless loss and pain.

  15. Beyond sad. Thank you for spreading the word and putting out this information. Now I understand the real reason why my brother and his wife decided to send their son to a private boarding school in Vermont rather than have him go to their local middle school in CA. Even though they can’t even admit to themselves that their son is gay, they knew that he’s different enough that he needed to switch schools- which they were able to do. Today he’s in a prestigious fashion school in NYC and is totally the bomb!

  16. This is so truly tragic. What torment her soul must have been in.

  17. 신논현 says:

    Reblogged this on 신논현오피〈girlie〉밤전건마방 and commented:

  18. Lisa says:

    You so eloquently put into words this important information. A massive change needs to take place in schools and in the California Department of Education. Another tragic loss of a beautiful young person!

  19. Amy Goldstein says:

    Makes me so sad…..and SOOO angry!!!!!

  20. amommasview says:

    How sad and shocking!

  21. lisa says:

    Lori, have you given any thought to starting an e-petition to Torlikson or know of anyone who has? Could be an easy and effective way to get the message across.

  22. Denise says:

    I’m so saddened by this. This town is only 15 minutes from me. I’m disgusted that there is so much hate here it would drive a beautiful young girl to suicide. The department of education is a joke.

  23. Nancy says:

    In another SoCal city, we refused to put our son into the local school because even though there were No Tolerance for Bullying signs plastered everywhere, these little boys were not taught at home to respect differences. Most of the boys were from ethnicities that originated in other countries and their culture / religions weren’t up to date. We knew exactly how those boys (and their FATHERS) would react to our son if he wore pink nails to school, etc.

    The world is not a perfect place, but PARENTS!!! Homeschool your kids if you are not 100% sure they will be accepted at your local school. Better to suffer economically than to lose your child completely. We just can’t change everyone at schools.

    RIP, Taylor. I am sorry it was so hard to wait for the “Gets Better” part.

  24. jerbearinsantafe says:

    Another great resource:

    http://www.translifeline.org – Trans Lifeline

    This line is primarily for transgender people experiencing a crisis. This includes people who may be struggling with their gender identity and are not sure that they are transgender. While our goal is to prevent self harm, we welcome the call of any transgender person in need. We will do our very best to connect them with services that can help them meet that need. If you are not sure whether you should call or not, then please call us.

    US: (877) 565-8860

    Canada: (877) 330-6366

  25. jerbearinsantafe says:

    Reblogged this on Fairy JerBear's Queer World News, Views & More From The City Different – Santa Fe, NM and commented:
    Truly sad news that I recently blogged about but not nearly as eloquently as Lori in this moving essay…

    • lisa says:

      Lori, have you given any thought to starting an e-petition to Torlikson or know of anyone who has? Could be an easy and effective way to get the message across.

  26. Dawn Conti says:

    Someday the world will know real peace,
    too bad i will not be here to see it,

  27. Kitty Catty says:

    Truly tragic. Will we ever learn?

  28. All this suicide is starting to get depressing….

  29. Catie says:

    So very sad. I have a gender nonconforming 6 year old. My husband and I, my family and friends, his school, all support him. What scares me is when he gets into the “real world” when I can’t protect him from hatred.

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