Anti-Bullying Vigil Held in Cedar Falls In Response to Gay Iowa Teen's Suicide
Community members gathered to remember the life of the gay teenager from Iowa who committed suicide and make a public statement about stopping bullying.
On Friday evening, people from the community met on the corner of University Avenue and Main Street in Cedar Falls to mourn the death of Kenneth J. Weishuhn Jr., and provide a public witness to the tragedy that bullying can cause.
On April 15 this 14-year-old committed suicide after being mercilessly bullied at school and online by classmates for about a month after he came out to his family and friends.
Two groups in the Cedar Valley, UNI Proud and Working Families Win, planned this vigil to lament the loss of Kenneth Weishuhn and show their support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth who struggle with similar situations.
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Around 40 community members gathered for an hour to stand on the corner of this busy Main Street intersection to hold signs, candles, and wave flags to communicate their message of support and hope for LGBT teens.
Part of this message was a call to parents, teachers, students, faith leaders, politicians, school administrators, and community members to stand up against bullying.
"I think people need to stop being a bystander to bullying," said vigil participant Stormy O'Brink.
Many people held signs declaring, "It takes a village to stop a bully."
In addition, participants in the vigil wanted to give LGBT youth hope that they can make it through difficult times.
One of the event coordinators, Chris Schwartz, said, "We want to send a message to students to stay strong and get through high school and things will get better."