Two 11-year-old pupils and best friends committed suicide after getting bullied by their classmates for questioning their sexuality.
Allegedly, the two teens, Madissen Foxx Paulsen, and Sophia Leaf-Abrahamson called each other ‘girlfriend’ which resulted in mockery from their classmates’ side.
Months after coming out as gay, 11-year-old Madissen fatally shot herself with her father’s gun at her family home in North Dakota.
Her best friend, Sophia, also committed suicide by hanging herself in their Spirit Lake Reservation home two months after Madissen was found dead.
Following their tragic deaths, the parents of the girls have joined forces and spoken out about their heartbreaking loss.
According to 46-year-old Shane Paulsen and 33-year-old Angela Leaf, they only became aware of the bullying after the girls have already taken their lives.
“I didn’t know there was a problem until I woke up to a gunshot on December 2,” Shane told DailyMail.
“I thought I had a healthy, happy child. Madissen was excellent in school, As and Bs. She won the American Citizenship Award.
“I don’t have other children, I’m a single father. We lost Madissen’s mom Ravanah to heroin addiction.
“I’m trying to work through where it went wrong. I still live in the same apartment where she killed herself so I don’t go home often.
“Madissen was everything. She was happy. I saw it, I know she was.”
Grief-stricken Angela added: “Sophia had a radiant personality, instantly you were her friend. She got that from my Dad, he was the same way.
“She loved the outdoors, snowboarding and playing in the snow. During the summer, it was swimming or fishing.
“She never gave you the sense that something was bothering her, always smiling, joking.”
According to the parents, the two girls met in the fifth grade and became inseparable since then.
“Sophia stayed the night a few times and the kids had a good time. We’d go to the movies and Burger King,” Shane added.
“They spent a lot of time doing their art, they were making a comic book together. They were both super colorful. They liked to dye their hair, electric blue and pink.”
“They followed each other. When Sophia cut her hair, shortly after that Madissen did too,” Angela confirmed.
Speaking of their daughters’ sexual orientation, Angela said:
“Sophia asked if she could talk to me. I told her she could talk to me about anything, to never be scared to talk to me.
“She blurted out, ‘I think I like girls.’ I told her it was okay.
“She asked if I was ‘grossed out’ and I told her I would be a big hypocrite [if I did] because my sister is my best friend and she’s bisexual. I told her there’s no way I’m going to judge her because she’s my daughter.
“If she and Madissen had those feelings, I would never have any issues with it. It’s part of life and I love my daughter one way or the other, no matter what.”
Shane added: “Madissen, Sophia and I were in a Burger King and my daughter points at Sophia and says, ”This is my girlfriend and there’s nothing you can do about it dad.
“I joked with them, ‘Well, you guys aren’t sleeping in the same room tonight. They were 11, how do they even know what love is yet? They were best friends.
“My daughter questioned her identity but it didn’t matter to me if she was in love with girls or in love with boys.”
While both parents are still looking for answers related to the loss of their loved ones, they remain convinced that bullying was the main reason behind the daughters’ deaths.
The parents also claim that the Central Middle School that the girls were attending has had minimal contact with their families after the girls committed suicide.
“I think they just want it all to go away. It isn’t the kind of publicity a school wants – two kids in the same grade, two months apart commit suicide and bullying could have been a huge issue,” Shane said.
“There’s a real problem in that school and I can say it boldly because I know that bullying goes on and people look the other way.”
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