#StandForIzzy: Girl, 10, kills herself after facing racist bullying at school

Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor was allegedly mistreated at the Foxboro Elementary School

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 11 November 2021 10:16
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<p>Brittany Tichenor- Cox joined by her sister Jasmine Rhodes, right, speaks about her daughter Izzy Tichenor, as hundreds joined the Tichenor family in mourning the death of 10-year-old Isabella "Izzy" Tichenor during a vigil at Foxboro Hollow Park in North Salt Lake, Utah,  on Tuesday, 9 November 2021</p>

Brittany Tichenor- Cox joined by her sister Jasmine Rhodes, right, speaks about her daughter Izzy Tichenor, as hundreds joined the Tichenor family in mourning the death of 10-year-old Isabella "Izzy" Tichenor during a vigil at Foxboro Hollow Park in North Salt Lake, Utah, on Tuesday, 9 November 2021

A 10-year-old Black girl on the autism spectrum killed herself after she faced racist bullying at her school in Salt Lake City, Utah, according to reports.

The girl’s mother, Brittany Tichenor, said that her daughter Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor was mistreated at Foxboro Elementary School and faced teasing for being one of the few Black students there.

Ms Tichenor said she had called the Davis School District “multiple times” to complain about it but the school administration allegedly did not help.

The 10-year-old had started her fifth grade at the school just months ago.

Ms Tichenor said: “Even though my baby is gone, I’m going to make sure that I stand for Izzy. And I’m going to make sure — for voices that can’t be heard like hers — that this will never happen again to any kid.”

There were several reports that pointed out that in Utah’s Davis School District, racism is prevalent and so much so that even the US Department of Justice had to step in. The school district is in fact a subject of a federal racism investigation.

Izzy’s family gathered in front of the playground in North Salt Lake where, reports said, Izzy used to love to dance and jump around.

Ms Tichernor also said that Izzy’s seven-year-old sibling had been called a racist slur in September this year. The school district officials said they had addressed her concerns with the school principal.

The Salt Lake City police have confirmed that they are investigating the case as a suicide.

Her death by suicide has angered the Black community in Utah. On Wednesday, jazz star Donovan Mitchell called it “sickening.”

According to a report by the US Department of Justice, the school officials were “deliberately indifferent” to racial harassment of Black and Asian-American Students in the Utah School District.

The DOJ investigation which focused on 2015-2020, “found hundreds of documented uses of the N-word, among other racial epithets, derogatory racial comments, and physical assaults targeting district students at dozens of schools. The department concluded that for years, Davis’s ineffective response left students vulnerable to continued harassment and that students believed the district condoned the behaviour.”

It added: “The department also found that Davis disciplined Black students more harshly than their white peers for similar behaviour and that Davis denied Black students the ability to form student groups while supporting similar requests by other students.”

Meanwhile, the district’s community relations supervisor, Shauna Lund said in a statement: “Foxboro Elementary has worked extensively with the family and will continue to provide help to them and others impacted by this tragedy. We take all incidents and reports of bullying seriously. At this point, the incident we are aware of involved another student. The teacher and administration responded quickly and appropriately. As with all allegations of bullying, our investigation will continue.”

Black and Asian-American students are each roughly 1 per cent of the approximately 73,000 students enrolled in the district, the DOJ report said.

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If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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