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Questions remain after Long Island teen commits suicide over alleged anti-gay bullying

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. — The Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth Network said it would fast-track its efforts to open an LGBT community center in Suffolk County after learning that an East Hampton, N.Y. teen who was allegedly the victim of anti-gay bullying took his own life last week.

David Hernandez Barros, 16, was found at his family’s home on the evening of Sept. 29, dead of an apparent suicide, according to East Hampton Police Detective Lt. Christopher Anderson.

Funeral service for David Hernandez Barros.
Photo: Morgan McGivern, The East Hampton Star.

Rumors circulating the internet indicated that David, a junior at East Hampton High School, had been bullied at school because he was gay, although questions about David’s sexual orientation remain unanswered by family members who declined to comment this week through a family friend acting as a spokesperson.

But students at East Hampton confirmed that David had attended meetings of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, including recent graduate Andrew Bennett, who, in a letter to the East Hampton Star, said he and David attended a GSA meeting together just days before his death.

“Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to know definitively what exactly happened in David’s case,” said David Kilmnick, Chief Executive of the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth Network. “It gets to a point where sometimes kids can’t take it anymore and some find that taking their own life is the only way they can deal with that because they have nowhere to go.”

David Hernandez Barros

“Regardless of whether David was gay or not, he should have had a place he could have seen as a lifesaver,” he said.

Kilmnick said that his group will hold a town meeting at East Hampton High School on October 22 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the circumstances surrounding David’s death, and how others can be helped before they consider suicide.

Kilmnick added that the East Hampton School District is far more advanced in gay and lesbian tolerance and sensitivity issues than most other school districts, but students often do not have a support system outside of school.

“With the East Hampton School District being 40 percent Latino, there is a great need for us to have a place for those students to come,” Kilmick said. “We hear from many young people that there is a lack of support system for many 
Latino and African-American young people who are gay.”

“In churches, which are often an important part of the Latino culture and of their family life, there are not a lot of good things said about gay people and little or no standing on the side of equality,” he said.

David was born in Ecuador.

“This has been a tragedy. We are grieving for David, his family and our community. We will continue our thorough evaluation of this sad and complex situation. Our thoughts and prayers go to the family., said East Hampton School Superintendent Richard Burns, in a statement released last week.

Burns and East Hampton High School principal Adam Fine refused to comment on allegations of bullying at the school.

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21 more reader comments:

  1. Ugh I wish we could make this insanity stop

    Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 9:44pm
  2. They should just let us be >..< we can't have LGBT THEN WE CANT HAVE MAN AND WOMEN TOGETHER………..

    Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 9:50pm
  3. I agree. Who cares, we need to educate,tolerance and acceptance. We should all be accepted by all, not have to worry about our sexual orientation. This is very sad. I am sicken by this story. Our prayers and thought are with the family.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 9:50pm
  4. This bullying has to Stop….I am so sick and tired of people using the Freedom of Speech Defence to Justify their Bullying! IT’S GOTTEN OUT OF CONTROL!

    Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 9:50pm
  5. Mickey, I’m glad you used the term “acceptance” tolerance is such bs. We need to encourage society to accept us, not tolerate us, or anyone else for that matter

    Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 9:55pm
  6. Its about time they start reachin out an helping kids everwhere

    Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 9:59pm
  7. … This-MUST-stop!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 10:00pm
  8. this insanity must stop!!! No more children ending their lives because of hateful bigoted SOBs.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 10:43pm
  9. i hope all u queers kill yourselves. you fudge packing faggots all deserve to die horrible butthole deaths. god will judge you rightfully and send you to hell.

    Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 11:33pm
  10. Josh Hedahl, science has proven that homophobics have homosexual inclinations that they try to hide. Look it up. Meanwhile, thank you for coming out and welcome to the LGBTQ Community!

    Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 11:42pm
  11. Josh, a high school drop out, 10 days ago you could stand on your own, tonight you’re drunk and lonely…..i hope, truely hope, life gets better for you…

    Posted on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 11:45pm
  12. This has to stop! When will people learn to accept each other for who they are, not what they look like/skin color/sexuality/gender identity. It’s time the bigots just keep their closed minded opinions to themselves and just let others get on with their lives. How many children need to die before change in society is made? We’ve already lost too many to this hate crime.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 12:07am
  13. @josh you too will be judged by that same God, and I hope he sends your bigot a$$ straight to hell. It is uneducated, closed minded morons such as yourself that cause these tragedies. I hope God judges you as a murderous demon as words like you used have caused many deaths. Insolence and stupidity on such a high level is a choice and I hope you burn in hell for the pain and suffering you cause people with your hateful words.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 12:17am
  14. @josh again. I see you dropped out of high school so my initial assessment of you just being a stupid, ignorant bigot holds true. Come and talk to me when you have an education, aren’t drunk, and have a bit more real life experience. Till then you’re just a Whiney little bitch looking for attention.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 12:24am
  15. @neil was going to say the same thing about homosexual inclinations, thank you for bringing it up :)

    Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 12:27am
  16. Lol. Josh you failure. <3 Just come out dear~

    Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 12:43am
  17. i a fuckin cigaret can some one give me one ill pay you back cunt

    Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:19am
  18. This has gone on long enough…

    Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:23am
  19. gay people are ignorant

    Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 3:13am
  20. This is really a shame and the bully should be made to pay for the torment that they caused.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 3:54am
  21. it is sad that bullying is so widespread. Suicide still isnt the answer.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 11:50am