Zach Harrington: Gay Teen Committed Suicide After Council Meeting
Zach Harrington Committed Suicide One Week After Attending a Norman City Council Meeting
The main subject of the council meeting was the discussion surrounding a proclamation recognizing October as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Month in Norman Oklahoma.
The council voted in favor of the designated month with a seven to one vote, and after the decision was made, the discussion portion was allowed to begin and it lasted the full three hours.
Some members of the community were opposed to the designation, while others accepted it.
One man said he moved to Norman because he thought it was the kind of place that would never accept the GLBT community with open arms. A woman, who described herself as “bi-racial,” said she was tired of the GLBT plight being compared to Civil Rights.
Some thought it was a waste of time however, and it was even implied that the council members who voted in favor of the month may have trouble getting reelected.
Zach Harrington, who was teased in high school for being gay, was one of the community members who attended the meeting, even though his parents are not quite sure why he did so. His family feels that this 'toxic' council environment may have been the reason their gay son and brother was pushed over the edge.
Nikki Harrington, Zach’s older sister, said her brother likely took all of the negative things said about members of the GLBT community straight to heart.
“When he was sitting there, I’m sure he was internalizing everything and analyzing everything … that’s the kind of person he was,” she said. “I’m sure he took it personally. Everything that was said.”
Harrington's father Van feels that his son may have glimpsed the future in Norman and saw it as a place that held the same views as those he experienced in high school.
“I don’t think it was a place where he would hear something to make him feel more accepted by the community,” he said. “For somebody like Zach, it (the meeting) was probably very hard to sit through.”
Zach graduated from high school in 2009, but he left school early to finish his diploma in a separate program due to the lack of acceptance.
“He feared for his safety on many occasions at (Norman North), and other people like him,” Van said. “Even though he was 6-4, he was passive and I’m sure being gay in that environment didn’t help.”
His sister said that she remembers the lack of tolerance of GLBT people at the high school when she was a student.
The family holds no resentment towards the community according to The Norman Transcript, but Van hopes that people look inside themselves before saying what was said at the meeting in the hopes that another life may turn out different than Zach's.