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IN HONOR OF BRANDON ELIZARES
(House of Representatives - June 20, 2012)

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[Page H3810]
                      IN HONOR OF BRANDON ELIZARES

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Reyes) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. REYES. As a parent and a grandparent, I rise today with a heavy 
heart to take time to remember Brandon Elizares, a young man who left 
us 2\1/2\ weeks ago.
  In our community, he will always be remembered for his smile, for his 
personality, and for his desire to serve as an inspiration to others. 
Brandon, like over 11 million people in this country, was gay, and like 
so many of his peers was being harassed and bullied until he took his 
own life on June 2 after being threatened with being buried alive and 
shot.
  His last message echoed his infinite love for his family and his 
apologies for not being strong enough to continue taking the abuse that 
he had faced for over 2 years. His final words read, ``My name is 
Brandon Joseph Elizares, and I couldn't make it. I love you guys with 
all of my heart.''
  High school should be an exciting time with an array of new 
experiences and challenges, but one thing it should not be is an 
environment in which young people worry about being bullied. Children 
in high school should be focused on their education, pure and simple. 
The sad reality, though, is that for many students their primary 
concerns don't lie in textbooks or in the upcoming exams but in the 
fear that they will not be accepted by their peers, that they will be 
physically abused, or, in the case of Brandon and in the cases of 
countless others like him, that they may consider taking their own 
lives to escape the terrible pain.
  Brandon was a young man who exemplified our best in the El Paso 
community. He embodied what this Nation looks for in all its young 
people. He was a best friend, a loving son, an aspiring model and 
artist, an excellent student, and, to a teenage girl who had 
contemplated suicide herself due to bullying, Brandon was a superhero 
and an older brother.
  Like so many El Pasoans, I feel a personal connection to Brandon, and 
his death reflects the unfortunate truth that many young people today 
in our community continue to suffer.

                              {time}  1010

  I stand here in the people's House to ask my colleagues to help me in 
ensuring that Brandon's death was not in vain. I ask my colleagues to 
join me in support of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, H.R. 998, and 
the Safe Schools Improvement Act, H.R. 1648, to protect LGBT students 
from discrimination and from bullying in the schools. I also ask that 
you stand with me in support of the ``It Gets Better Campaign,'' a 
project whose goal is to prevent suicide among youth by having adults 
and allies convey the message that these teens' lives will ultimately 
improve.
  In our country today, unfortunately, the facts are clear. Fifty-six 
percent of students have personally felt some sort of bullying at 
school. Between the fourth and eighth grade in particular, 90 percent 
of students report being the victims of bullying. Nine out of ten LGBT 
youth reported being verbally harassed in school in the past year 
because of their sexual orientation. A victim of bullying is twice as 
likely to take his or her life compared to someone who has not been 
victimized.
  Every day, thousands of children wake up fearing for their well-being 
as they go to school. If the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the 
Safe Schools Improvement Act were enacted today, we could provide 
students a sense of relief and some reassurance that their government 
is working to improve their lives by increasing awareness about their 
daily struggles. We owe that to Brandon and so many others who are 
suffering from bullying in our schools.

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