The real, deadly toll of bullying gay kids

Jamey Rodemeyer
Jamey Rodemeyer, in a still from his "It gets better" video.

In Washington Wednesday, the Department of Education hosted its second annual summit to combat bullying.

It's a nationwide problem, that CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano reports was painfully highlighted this week by the death of a high school freshman from Buffalo.

Tracy Rodemeyer, mother of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, struggles with the aftermath.

"It hurts me so, to think my son felt like he was not worthy of anything," Tracy says.

Jamey had been bullied relentlessly since 5th grade. His parents, Tim and Tracy, found his body on Sunday.

48 Hours special: Bullying: Words can kill

"It really just started with all the boys, cause all the girls just loved him and they always defended him, but all the boys would say, "Geez you're such a girl. Why are you hanging out with all those girls? What are you, a girl? Oh, you must be gay," Tracy remembers.

"The bullies now are still walking around. They get to wake up tomorrow and go to school and see all their friends, but my son will not be given a second chance no matter how much I have prayed. I would have given my own life to turn back the minute we seen him," Tracy says.

Jamey was harassed by online insults. He saw counselors to try to deal with the pain. He even took part in the "It Gets Better Project," in which people have posted a video as part of an online support group for gay teens.

"We were born this way," Jamey said in his video. "Now all you have to do is put your head up --- put your head up and you'll go far. Because that's all you have to do, just love yourself and you're set."

Still, just weeks ago he posted this plea for help: "I always say how bullied I am, but no one listened. What do I have to do so people will listen to me?"

The Rodemeyers refuse to grieve in silence.

"They have to somehow get the power away from the bully, and I don't know how you do that, and that's the biggest question in my mind. Because, if the bully doesn't have power, he's nobody," Tim Rodemeyer says. "For a young kid of 14 1/2, he had a big message, a huge message that shouldn't even have to be a message. It should just be common decency to not make people feel worthless and useless on this planet, that they don't deserve to be with other people," Tracy Rodemeyer says.

Tracy Rodemeyer will bury her son in a t-shirt with a message of acceptance and defiance. It reads simply: "Born this way."

  • Elaine Quijano
    Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.