An Alabama deputy has been placed on administrative leave for writing a homophobic comment on a Facebook post about a gay teen who died by suicide.
Madison County Deputy Jeff Graves wrote that he is “seriously offended” by the LGBTQ movement in response to a WZDX-TV Facebook post about the death of 15-year-old Nigel Shelby, according to Al.com. The family of Shelby, who was a freshman at Huntsville High School in Alabama, reportedly said the teen had been bullied over his sexuality.
Graves also mocked the LGBTQ community by redefining its commonly used acronym, stating, “Liberty Guns Bible Trump BBQ That’s my kind of LGBTQ movement,” according to local NBC affiliate WAFF.
The deputy’s comments echo those of Belle’s Smokin’ BBQ, a Kentucky restaurant that came under fire over the weekend for selling T-shirts with the same redefinition of “LGBTQ.”
A Kentucky barbecue food truck is getting a lot of heat after advertising its T-shirts on social media.
Belle’s Smokin’ BBQ took a play on the acronym LGBTQ and changed it to Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump and BBQ.
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Sheriff Kevin Turner said an internal investigation will be conducted. Graves did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer are five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to their straight peers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people, research shows. Black youth, like Shelby, are especially vulnerable and take their lives at nearly twice the rate of their white counterparts, according to a 2018 CDC study.
Rest In Power Nigel Shelby
A 9th grader from Huntsville, Alabama. Nigel died by suicide after experiencing relentless bullying at his school. 74% of LGBTQ youth report not feeling safe in the schools they attend. We have to do better for LGBTQ youth.https://www.facebook.com/45105123/posts/10102516711287652?sfns=mo …7,3116:01 AM – Apr 20, 20194,697 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy
Nearly 74 percent of LGBTQ youth nationwide report not feeling safe at school, according to the Center for Social Equity. And in Alabama, there are no nondiscrimination laws and policies covering LGBTQ students.
Nadia M. Richardson, a Huntsville High School alumna and the founder of the mental health advocacy organization No More Martyrs, said that Shelby’s death underscores that suicide among black youth is on the rise.
“We have so much to understand and so much work to do,” Richardson said in a recent Facebook post. “Racism, sexism, homophobia, classism; all of that plays a part. Bullying is a byproduct of a world ill-equipped to include that which is deemed different.”
Advocacy groups, including the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention services to LGBTQ youth, has said that just one supportive person can decrease an LGBTQ youth’s risk of suicide by 30 percent.
Amit Paley, the executive director of the Trevor Project, noted that his organization often hears from “LGBTQ young people who have thoughts of suicide, or feel unsafe or unloved at school or home — just for being who they are.”
“We know how challenging coming out can be at any age, especially in environments that may include risk factors for increased rates of discrimination, rejection and bullying,” Paley said in a statement shared with NBC News.
“We encourage adults who interact with youth to learn more about LGBTQ competent suicide prevention and risk detection, and to remind LGBTQ youth that they are never alone, that their lives have value, and are loved,” Paley said.