Mother: Gay Son Suffered Brutal Harassment at Camp

RIPLEY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A mother from Jackson County, W.Va., says her teenage son was brutally harassed at summer 4-H camp because he's gay.

"He was unconscionable, he was, he could barely speak," says the boy's mother, Valera White.

White said the language was so vile that she can't categorize what was said. In fact, she didn't find out what these campers said until her son wrote it all down for her.

She took that statement to police. But there is not much that police can do much because there is no law that protects White's 15-year-old son from what happened. West Virginia does not include sexual orientation in its hate crimes law.

The family said what happened at camp isn't their first experience with being ridiculed because their teenage son is gay. Doing things like going to the grocery store have become enormous tasks for White and her son because the taunting seems unending.

White's son says he cannot go to the movies anymore. When asked if he wanted to tell WSAZ.com what kind of comments people made to him, he said, "it's not worth it."

A spokeswoman for the 4H camp says that the two boys in question were sent home from camp, though the family says there were actually three people.

The spokesperson also says 4H always works to create an environment for children to feel safe. She says that counselors were nearby during the attack.

White says she supports 4-H, and it's programs. "I think their organization is wonderful, I really do. I hate that it happened out there."

White says her problem is with not having any recourse for her son.

The victim says they counselors were on the porch of the cabin while the attack went on.

As for why no one checked on the children during this time is unclear. So are the rules as to how often counselors check-in on the children. If those counselors will be reprimanded won't be known because the 4H spokeswoman says it's a personnel issue.

The victim says there were about two dozen other kids in the cabin at the time of the attack, but they didn't tell anyone for fear they would be the next target.


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