Friends hold vigil for teen bullying victim - WSMV Channel 4


Friends hold vigil for teen bullying victim


Dozens of friends and community members held a candlelight vigil Thursday for Jacob Rogers, a Cheatham County teen who took his own life this week after friends say he was bullied for being gay.

Now, there's a huge outpouring of support and a state advocacy group is calling for change.

Many of the people who turned out for the vigil at River Bluff Park say they didn't know Rogers personally, but they felt a connection to him because of their own experiences with bullying.

One mother said she was present because her children had been bullied.

So many of the mourners say they want to both remember Jacob and send a strong message.

"He just always had a smile on his face," grandmother Norma Rogers said.

Jacob's family says behind that smile, the 18-year-old was hiding more pain than anyone could imagine.

"The comments just kept getting worse and worse and worse about him. All just because he was homosexual," cousin Harley Jackson said.

Friends say that kids bullied Jacob Rogers at Cheatham County Central High School for the past four years, but in the past few months it had become so bad he dropped out of school.

And Wednesday, he ended his life.

Principal Glenda Barrow says she feels the school did everything it could to help Jacob get the support he needed.

Barrow says Jacob came to her several times to discuss his problems and the counselors were working with him.

Administrators and police also say Jacob was battling a drug addiction and was on medication. And they say he wouldn't get into specifics when discussing the bullying.

"A lot of times he wouldn't tell me who. And that makes it kind of hard when you can't figure out who it is that's doing the bullying," Barrow said.

Jacob's family says he only started drinking and doing drugs because of the bullying.

Chris Sanders, with the Tennessee Equality Project, says there is more school officials can do.

"Schools need to be safe for all of these children," he said. "We think they need to adopt a policy that explicitly includes sexual orientation and gender identity in their bullying standards. But also look at how they are addressing each instance. Are they getting students adequate discipline in those cases."

At first it looked as though Jacob's family may not have enough money for a proper funeral. But several local businesses and prominent bloggers have stepped up to show their support by raising money.

Donations for Rogers' family are being accepted at Sandman's Ink Shop, 1102 N. Main St., Ashland City, during regular business hours. Call 615-792-0506 for information.

Accounts have been set up at Community Bank and Trust and Bank of America in Ashland City in Jacob Rogers' name.

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