By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Orange County, Florida, authorities say they have finished the investigation into the suspected hazing-related death of Robert Champion, the 26-year-old Florida A&M University student and drum major who died in November.
The case has now been handed over to prosecutors who will make a decision on possible charges.
"During the course of this investigation, Orange County Sheriff's Office investigators have worked over 1000 man hours and over 40 individuals have been interviewed," Orange County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Monday. "We have worked closely with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and on numerous occasions investigators have traveled to and from Tallahassee to meet with witnesses and gather statements."
The Florida State Attorney's Office said it has received the investigation but could not give a timeline of when a decision will be made in the case that has FAMU and other universities contemplating how to end violent hazing rituals.
Editors Note: David M. Hall, Ph.D., is he author of the book “Allies at Work: Creating a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Inclusive Work Environment.” He is also the author of “BullyShield,” an iPhone and Droid app. Hall teaches high school students as well as graduate courses on LGBT issues and bullying prevention. His website is www.davidmhall.com and he is on twitter @drdavidmhall.
By David M. Hall, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Dharun Ravi made videos of his college roommate, Tyler Clementi, sexually involved with another man. Tyler was unaware that he was being recorded and broadcast. Confronted with this violation of his privacy, Tyler committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington bridge.
In 2008, Jessica Logan, a high school senior in Ohio, sent naked pictures of herself to her boyfriend. When they broke up, he forwarded those photos to others. Logan was called a slut and a whore, according to numerous news reports. She eventually committed suicide – just weeks after graduation- by hanging herself in her bedroom closet.
Clementi’s privacy was clearly violated. There is debate about whether Logan waived her privacy. However, both were victims of people inflicting harm by attempting to hold them up for ridicule. Each of their stories has the same tragic ending. Clementi and Logan found that their expectation of privacy was violated.
By David Ariosto, CNN
(CNN) - A former Rutgers University student accused of spying on and intimidating his gay roommate by use of a hidden webcam was found guilty on all counts, including invasion of privacy and the more severe charges of bias intimidation, in a case that thrust cyberbullying into the national spotlight.
Dharun Ravi, 20, could now face up to 10 years in jail and deportation to his native India. He was also found guilty of witness tampering, hindering apprehension and tampering of physical evidence.
The jury was confronted with a series of questions on each charge. Though it found Ravi not guilty on several questions within the verdict sheet, because he was found guilty on at least one question on each main count, he could now face the maximum penalty.
Editor's note: Teddi Noel Mattox is a 15-year-old freshman at Montclair High School in New Jersey. She's a writer, singer/songwriter, rower on the crew team and Nutella addict. She hopes to travel the world and help those in need.
By Teddi Noel Mattox, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Growing up in this generation, I’ve seen more than my fair share of trends, some stupid, some dangerous, and a lot just plain weird.
In a world where teens like me hear many messages encouraging us to be ourselves, it always confuses me when the same people spreading those messages turn around and ask us to do “what’s in” or “what’s hot” at the moment.
Unfortunately, what's "in” at the moment is something a lot of girls my age are doing, posting “Hot or not?” videos on YouTube. The whole premise of this is to post a video of yourself and ask viewers if they find you attractive.
Even though some comments are really encouraging and sweet, quite a few are not. As a teen, I know full well this may not even have much to do with how a teen looks. Some people post offensive comments on YouTube because they can. This is just one of the many disturbing problems with this trend.
By Madison Park, CNN
Berkeley, California (CNN) - When a boy struts in a tutu or a girl dons boxer shorts, it makes grown-ups nervous. It's one of the first lessons kids who are gender nonconforming learn.
Mich is biologically female, but didn't identify as a girl. As a child, Mich insisted on having boy-cut short hair, shunned all things pink and refused to play with dolls or wear dresses.
At age 3, "I told my mom I wanted to be a boy," said Mich, who requested to be identified by first name only. "And, throughout the years, I learned that saying that was not right ... and so, you hide this part of yourself. But you still know something's up. The problem with kids is that they don't have the language to say it, but they know."
Editor's Note: Jeff Yang writes the column Tao Jones for the Wall Street Journal Online, is a regular contributor to WNYC radio, blogging for "The Brian Lehrer Show", and appears weekly on "The Takeaway". He formerly wrote the "Asian Pop" column for the San Francisco Chronicle and was founder and publisher of A magazine. He tweets @originalspin.
By Jeff Yang, Special to CNN
Two young soldiers, Private Danny Chen of Manhattan, New York and Lance Corporal Harry Lew of Santa Clara, California, volunteered for military service over the objections of their families. Both ended up being posted to remote parts of Afghanistan, deep in hostile territory and largely cut off from the world. Both subsequently experienced extended campaigns of harassment at the hands of their comrades-at-arms. And last year, both, it appears, were driven to take their own lives as a result.
Their shocking deaths have raised new questions about hazing in the armed forces — but the truth is, "hazing" isn't even the right word for what they experienced.
After all, hazing is generally part of a process of initiation, in which a newcomer voluntarily undergoes ritual abuse in order to win acceptance within a group.
There was nothing voluntary about the punishment Chen and Lew experienced, and it was designed to alienate them from their peers, not create a path to solidarity. In Chen's case at least, the program of isolation included being repeated called racial slurs like "gook," “chink” and “dragon lady" by his tormentors (all of whom were white).
The more appropriate term for what Chen and Lew faced is targeted bullying — and it's something that's hardly limited to the military.
Editors Note: David M. Hall, Ph.D., is the author of “BullyShield,” an iPhone and Droid app. He is he author of the book “Allies at Work: Creating a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Inclusive Work Environment.” Hall teaches high school students as well as graduate courses on LGBT issues and bullying prevention. His website is www.davidmhall.com and he is on twitter @drdavidmhall.
By David M. Hall, Special to CNN
(CNN) - When EricJames Borges was in college, he said, his mother performed an exorcism over him to “cure” him of being gay. He recalled reaching a breaking point in high school when he was assaulted in class while a teacher was present. He said that verbal and physical assaults, which included being spit on, occurred on a daily basis.
Borges' personal pain was evident in the "It Gets Better" video he published in December, when his disposition and mood seem to provide a window into the ways he was tormented. In an effort to help vulnerable LGBT teens, he volunteered for The Trevor Project, an LGBT suicide-prevention organization.
Last week, Borges committed suicide.
In coverage of this tragic story, much attention has been paid to the fact that through his work with The Trevor Project, he knew what counseling resources were at his disposal, though he didn't manage to access them. However, little attention has been paid to what bystanders could have done at a more formative time in his life. Allies and bystanders could have protected Borges from years of isolation and the devastating feelings that accompany it.
The voice of one bystander can stop bullying. Sadly, the collective sound of bystander silence often speaks much louder, providing bullies with unspoken approval. The result of bystander silence is often that bullying intensifies.
Orlando (CNN) - The attorney for the family of Robert Champion, who died in November after he was beaten on a bus, allegedly as part of a Florida A&M University band hazing ritual, says Champion's friends have told him the 26-year-old drum major was gay.
Relatives believe that may have been one of many factors that contributed to Champion being treated more severely than other band members, attorney Chris Chestnut said.
However, Chestnut says, Champion's homosexuality is not believed to have been a primary factor in the beating.
"This is not a hate crime. This is a hazing crime," he said. "Florida A&M University has a 50-year history, a culture in this band, of hazing."
Chestnut made the comments at a press conference today to announce Champion's family will sue the company that owns the bus where the incident allegedy happened.
The bus and its air conditioning system is believed to have been running at the time Champion was beaten, Chestnut said, and the bus driver might not have been aboard. The family is suing Fabulous Coach Lines, based in Branford, Florida, he said.
Editor's Note: David M. Hall, Ph.D., is the author of “BullyShield,” an iPhone and Droid app, and the author of the book “Allies at Work: Creating a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Inclusive Work Environment.” He teaches high school students as well as graduate courses on LGBT issues and bullying prevention. He can be reached at davidmhall.com or on Twitter @drdavidmhall.
By David M. Hall, Special to CNN
(CNN) - During the final Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire, Rick Santorum was asked how he would respond if his son told him he was gay.
“I would love him as much as I did the second before he said it,” Santorum responded.
He received applause for this statement, which is surprising since loving our children is expected and should not merit applause. But further inquiry is necessary to understand whether Santorum would support his son in a way that would help him lead a healthy, productive, happy life.
In a 2003 interview, Santorum was asked how he would respond if one of his children were gay, and he stated that he would “point out to them what is the right thing to do. And we have many temptations to do things we shouldn’t do. That doesn't mean we have to give in to those temptations... it doesn't mean you have to submit." Millions of parents across this country have similar feelings to Santorum. What Santorum and like-minded parents need to know is the immense harm that this response can cause their LGBT children.
By Ed Lavandera, CNN
Dallas (CNN) – Jesmyn Ward stunned the literary world Wednesday night when her novel “Salvage the Bones” won the National Book Award for fiction. Ward was considered a long shot, at best, to win the prestigious award.
Before the nominees were announced in mid-October, Ward’s novel didn’t generate much publicity. The 34-year-old author was convinced her novel would be “lost in the sea of books.”
Now, people are paying attention. One critic says Ward's novel “has the aura of a classic.”
“Salvage the Bones” tells the story of a poor black Mississippi family struggling through life in August 2005 as Hurricane Katrina is about the strike the Gulf Coast. In one of the few reviews of the book in a major newspaper, The Washington Post praises Ward for her honest depiction of life in her home state of Mississippi.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.