12-year-old cheerleader takes his own life after anti-gay bullying

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A 12-year-old male cheerleader has taken his own life after horrific homophobic bullying.

Ronin Shimizu was a student at Folsom Middle School in Folsom, California, where he was bullied for being the only male on an all-female cheerleading team.

The boy had been a part of Vista Junior Eagles Cheer Team – but he was recently removed from Folsom to be home-schooled.

He took his own life on Wednesday.

Police have not released the full details of the death, other than to confirm that it is not being treated as suspicious – but a number of news outlets are reporting it was suicide.

One fellow cheerleader told CBS: “I didn’t see why people would tease him because he was so nice.

Another added: “I heard that people called him gay because he was a cheerleader.”

The Eagles said in a statement: “Tragically, we lost one of our own yesterday, Ronin Shimizu.

“Please support his family through this extremely difficult time and keep watching our website on how you can help this situation. Please keep all of them in your thoughts and prayers.”

Daniel Thigpen of Folsom Cordova School District confirmed the boy’s family had reported bullying on more than one occasion.

He said: “Any allegations bullying related to this specific incident, we’re certainly reviewing how we responded to those and we’ll use that as an opportunity to always take a look at how we respond to future allegations.”

A letter to parents from Folsom Principal John Bliss said: “This news has deeply saddened many of our students and staff who knew him.

“Today we have and will continue to provide counselling and support to students and staff who need assistance dealing with their grief.

“While we do not know all of the circumstances surrounding Ronin’s passing, we will continue our work to maintain a safe, caring and positive school environment free from bullying and harassment.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article and need to talk to someone, visit samaritans.org or call 08457 90 90 90.