The mother of an Alabama teenager who killed himself after allegedly being bullied in school for being gay was breaking her silence after his death in April, NBC News reported. Nigel Shelby‘s Huntsville school ignored clear warning signs and an administrator even told him that it was a choice to be gay, Camika Shelby said this week.
“After my son passed, I learned that he had several discussions about homosexuality with school administrators and was told that being gay was a choice,” Camika Shelby said in a statement released Monday. “I was never contacted by the school and informed that my son was struggling with his sexual identity and regularly having discussions with a school administrator.”
She continued: “People at his school knew that he planned to take his own life. I need to find out who knew and why nobody told me until after he died.” Camika Shelby also claimed other students heard the conversations administrators had with her son, who was 15 when he died.
Camika Shelby is being represented by civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump and Jasmine Rand, who delivered the statement.
“As civil rights leaders, we have a duty to ensure all of our children are safe in school and treated with equality, and that educators address and guide children struggling with gender and racial identity issues in a positive and loving way that benefits the growth of the child,” the attorneys said.
The Huntsville City Schools District has denied any responsibility, saying in a statement there were no complaints of bullying and it would “work with Shelby and her attorneys to answer questions they may have and to correct any misunderstandings or misinformation, to the extent possible.
“The administrators and counselors of Huntsville High School had a close relationship with Nigel during his time at the school. They worked with Nigel to ensure that he felt at home at Huntsville High,” the statement also added.
“Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University,” the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported. On top of that, the CDC found that more than “14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.”
In addition, Black children are twice as likely to commit suicide than white children, according to Nationwide Children’s.
Rest in power, Nigel.