Skip to main content

San Diego Transgender Teen Deaths Prompt Questions On Bullying, Support

San Diego Transgender Teen Deaths Prompt Questions On Bullying, Support

Following the suicides of two transgender teens in San Diego County, experts offer a look at the challenges facing LGBTQ teens and advice on what schools and adults can do to help them.

We're sorry. This audio clip is no longer available. A transcript has been made available.

Following the suicides of two transgender teens in San Diego County, experts are offering a look at the challenges facing LGBTQ teens and advice on what schools and adults can do to help them.

Taylor Alesana, a 16-year-old Fallbrook High School sophomore, shared her experience with bullying and reached out to transgender teens in several YouTube videos before her death on April 2.

Another transgender teen who went by the name Sage also committed suicide in March, according to 10News. Letters and artwork that honor him are still on display at the North County LGBTQ Resource Center in Oceanside, which held a vigil last week for Taylor.

Education psychologist Vangie Akridge, who works with LGBT teens, said the suicides were felt throughout San Diego County.

“The community countywide has been impacted by the losses,” Akridge told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday.”

Suicide Prevention 24-Hour Hotlines

• San Diego County Crisis Line: (888) 724-7240

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255

• Trans Lifelife: (877) 565-860

Akridge said parents and schools could help teens by embracing differences and by training teachers in diversity.

“It’s about creating a school culture and climate that is accepting,” Akridge said. “If you think about current educators, there’s no course or training related to LGBTQ issues.”

Kurt Cunningham, outreach coordinator for Mental Health America of San Diego County, said the training shouldn’t stop at schools though.

“Bullying is something that people do across the board,” Cunningham said. “We need to be sensitive. We need to ask how people want to be addressed. We’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go.”

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.