At 44, Sirdeaner Walker had survived domestic violence, homelessness and a battle with breast cancer. But her darkest hour came on April 6, 2009. That was the day that her 11-year-old son, Carl Walker-Hoover, hanged himself.
How could this have happened? Carl was a wonderful, caring child who loved his family and went to church. He was also the victim of constant anti-gay bullying at school. Sirdeaner had repeatedly tried to get administrators to intervene, but to no avail. They simply weren’t equipped to handle the problem.
After Carl’s death, Sirdeaner could have stayed home and mourned. Instead, she chose to get involved. She used her newfound visibility as a platform to speak out against bullying in schools, and to reach out to other families who have experienced tragedies similar to hers. She began working with the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, as a Board Member and spokesperson, advocating for federal legislation that would require that schools adopt anti-bullying policies. In July of 2009 she testified before Congress in support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act. As Sirdeaner continues her work, she hopes that others will heed her call. “Bullying is not an inevitable part of growing up. It can be prevented. And there isn’t a moment to lose.”
Sirdeaner is currently serving as the Interim Director of Homeless Programs at the Massachusetts Career Development Institute and resides in Springfield, MA with her three children.
To learn more about Sirdeaner's work, please visit www.glsen.org