School puts up wall hangings to commemorate bullying victim

04/20/2021 10:25 PM
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Photo courtesy of Gao Shu Junior High School
Photo courtesy of Gao Shu Junior High School

Taipei, April 20 (CNA) A series of metal wall hangings, depicting a rose and a tree, have been installed at Gao Shu Junior High School in Pingtung County, in commemoration of a late student, who had been bullied over his "effeminate" demeanor.

Yeh Yung-chih (葉永鋕), who was a senior at the school 21 years ago, died in hospital on April 21, 2000, a day after he was found lying in a pool of blood on the floor of the school bathroom.

Foul play was not a factor in his death, authorities ruled, citing a lack of any intentional injuries, and the opinion was that Yeh had fainted and fallen due to pre-existing conditions.

Due to the constant bullying by his classmates over his "effeminate" demeanor, Yeh had taken to using the bathroom during class time instead of at recess, and on that fateful day, he had asked to be excused a few minutes before his fourth period class ended.

His death spurred the legislation of the Gender Equity Education Act in Taiwan and inspired an award-winning song by pop star Jolin Tsai (蔡依林), titled Womxnly in English and "Rose Boy" (玫瑰少年) in Chinese.

In a Facebook post Tuesday on the 21st anniversary of Yeh's death, Legislator Chou Chun-mi (周春米) said the fact that the student had to use the bathroom during class was a major factor in his death.

Chou said the bathrooms at one of the buildings of Gao Shu Junior High School had been remodeled recently and a rose-shaped metal wall hanging had been installed at the entrance to each of the male bathrooms, while tree-shaped hangings were put up outside the female washrooms.

The symbolism is that regardless of gender, "a person can be as beautiful and gentle as a rose, and as strong and steadfast as a tree," Chou said.

The school's principal Chen Liang-ku (陳亮谷) told CNA that the building where Yeh was found had been torn down years ago because it was old.

The stainless steel hangings were decided on after discussions among teachers at the school and were installed so that "students would remember Yeh's story," Chen said.

(By Kuo Chi-hsuan and Chiang Yi-ching)


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