Transgender teen's family hopes his suicide sparks important conversations, changes
The breeze rocks lanterns and wavers flowers in Jamie Olender's front yard. It's here she and her husband, Eric, sit and remember.
\"He was always my bright shining star,\" Olender said.
That star was their 15-year-old son, Cameron Langrell. Cameron grew up loving to sing, dance and perform. A natural musical talent, Cameron taught himself to play piano and guitar.
\"He was a spark, just a beautiful, beautiful child,\" Olender said.
A few years ago, Cameron started telling his parents he felt trapped in the wrong body. Recently he came out to family and close friends as transgender.
\"We embraced him no matter what,\" Olender said. \"We always told him to be who you are and we'll love you, no matter who you choose to be in life.\"
But some kids at Racine Horlick High School bullied Cameron, pushing the freshman to the limit in the hallways and on social media.
Thursday afternoon, April 30, Jamie came home early from work to find Cameron in the basement. He had committed suicide.
\"he would do anything for anybody and it's so sad he felt this was the only way out,\" Olender said.
The Racine Unified School District brought in a crisis team of counselors for students and staff, something the district has done before.
\"It has been a very challenging year for Horlick,\" RUSD communications manager Stacy Tapp said.
Tapp says the school had another student commit suicide last year and yet another in 2013. Tapp says bullying is an issue across the country and the district provides resources for students to talk to.
\"[Horlick has] very strong [lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender] student groups that are very active and very supportive,\" Tapp said. \"So, I can't answer the question of why Horlick.\"
But Jamie and Eric want the district to do more asking for the students responsible to face punishment and provide more acceptance programs.
For now, they sit and wait in the breeze in their front yard, praying Cameron is finally at peace.
\"Love them,\" Olender said of children. \"Love them for who they are and hold them every day and listen. Really listen.\"
Jamie and Eric don't want Cameron's story to end here. They are planning a celebration of Cameron's life Saturday at their Caledonia home. The gathering is open to anyone and will have singing, dancing music and hula-hooping. Festivities begin at 2 p.m. You can find more info on Jamie's Facebook page here.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family with expenses. You can find a link to that page here.