The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Leelah (Joshua) Alcorn's parents should be punished for her death

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/3/2015 Category: News
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,194 times Debate No: 67777
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




First round is for acceptance only.


I accept this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Leelah's parents are responsible for her death in several ways:

1) Parents are required by law to allow their children to receive necessary medical treatment. By denying Leelah the opportunity to see real, licensed, appropriate doctors and therapists for her emotional and physical needs (depression, suicidal thoughts, gender dysphoria), they denied her access to the resources that could have saved her life. "I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression," wrote Leelah (Source 1).

2) They were emotionally abusive. They talked to her in a "derogatory tone" (Source 1), belittled her, punished her rather than supporting her, and denied her identity. According to the law of Ohio, where Leelah and her parents lived, the responsibilities of parents towards minors (Leelah was 17) include "[the minimization of e]xposure of the child to harmful parental conflict [. . .] as much as possible" and "[. . .] a parenting arrangement that best provides for a child's safety, emotional growth, health, stability, and physical care" (Source 2).

3) Leelah, who has a better understanding of her situation at home than anyone else, pointed to her own parents as the cause of her death. Most children would feel a strong enough connection to their parents to want to protect them from legal prosecution. The accusations Leelah made extremely serious against her parents: ones that could put them behind bars. That's precisely why they should be taken seriously. Leelah was the closest witness to her mistreatment by her parents, and her clear, unambiguous accusation is testament to the severity of her abuse.

Because Leelah's parents caused her death, they aught to be held responsible for what was unintentional but blatantly a murder. They should be tried for wrongful death. Leelah's dying wish was that change be made to empower and GIVE power to the transgender community. Punishing her parents would do so by sending a clear message that people cannot mistreat others on the basis of non-cisgender identity and get away with it.



JackFritschy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Please make an argument or you will forfeit the debate.


Just to make things clear, this debate is wiether or not the parents of Josh/Leelah Alcorn should be punished by the law. Pro makes to claims to this regard, first she says that the parents did not provide psychological care for his depression and that becouse his parents spoke harshly to him, they are responsible for his death.
For one, according to the parents, Josh rarely talked about being transgendered and they also did give him pyscatric care. As to the second point, the first amendment protects all freedom of speech. Josh was responsible for his own death. FInally lets assume for just a second that harsh words could legally get someone convicted for causing a suicied. Even then, it becomes the word of josh against his parents, leaving quite a lot of room for reasonable doubt.
Debate Round No. 3


My opponents claims are as follows:

1. "Josh[sic] rarely talked about being transgendered[sic]"
2. "[The parents] did give him[sic] psycatric[sic] care."
3. "The first amendment protects all freedom of speech."
4. "Josh[sic] was responsible for his[sic] own death."
5. "[I]t becomes the word of [J]osh[sic] against his[sic] parents[...]"

My opponents has failed, however, to provide sources for any of his fact-based or opinion-based points. I will dispute these five points, providing evidence against those which are fact-based, and what we know about law, the past, and the case as it stands against those points which are opinion-based.

The entirety of the letter, as well as the second letter, can be found here [1] and here [2].

1. According to Leelah's own note, she told her mother about being transgender as soon as she found out herself, immediately after hearing of the concept. What followed, after her mother told her father without her permission, was a series of systematic attempts at bullying and punishing Leelah's transgender identity out of her. So says the letter: "I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn"t make mistakes, that I am wrong." Not only did they tell her these awful, identity-destroying things, but they took away privileges and isolated her from her friends. Isolation in particular is a form of abuse, and was paired with verbal abuse that continued until Leelah went from being very verbal and open about her identity to silent and told her parents she wasn't really trans. So yes, she DID talk to her parents about it, and then DIDN'T eventually because she knew it would only be met with hate and punishment.

2. That depends on what you define as psychiatric care. Leelah was subjected to christian conversion therapy, a practice that has been outlawed in several states[3], which is widely considered a psuedo-science, and which is considered by many to be child abuse. By Leelah's own admission, the so-called "therapy" was not actual therapy but rather sitting in a room being told that she was sinful and an inconvenience to her family. She was denied both permission to make her transition and even permission to get ACTUAL psychiatric help for the depression her treatment by others caused her.

3. No, actually, the first amendment does NOT protect ALL freedom of speech [4]. It's still illegal to yell fire in a crowded building, and the reason is that yelling fire when there isn't one is reckless endangerment that could put other's lives at risk. According to[4], you can be held responsible for purposeless vulgarity, lying, verbal abuse, and other uses of language as a means of hurting people. Leelah's parents verbally abused her with their hate speech and drove her to kill herself, which is not protected by the first amendment. In terms of the religious freedom of Leelah's parents, which you did not mention but which I could forsee you bringing up, I have this to say: religious freedom only goes so far as protecting religion when it is not harmful to others. Because religions are human created, humans potentially have the power to create a religion to serve their own interests and get around the rules if we allow "religious freedom" to mean that one is allowed to do anything so long as their religion demands it. If, for example, someone went and created a religion in which it was religiously necessary to go on a killing spree once a week, the government would be completely within their right to block and punish that part of their religion. Although denying Leelah's identity may have been a part of her parents' religion (this in itself is disputed, with even the Pope making statements to the effect that LGBT individuals aught to be accepted and loved by members the Christian faith [5]), their actions under the umbrella of Christianity led to a child's death, and deserve legal intervention.

4. There are many ways in which a person can be held responsible for the suicidal of an individual that they tortured or otherwise drove to suicide. See [6], "CIVIL LIABILITY FOR CAUSING OR FAILING TO

5. Yes, and Leelah has laid the framework for a suit by pointing to her parents directly as the cause of her suicide. There are also friends and neighbors who were involved either directly or indirectly that can stand as witnesses for the abuse and mistreatment of Leelah Alcorn.



JackFritschy forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by discomfiting 2 years ago
Leelah's parents are murderers. They should be charged with gross negligent homicide or malicious harassment or even both.
Posted by Ragnar 2 years ago
I would accept, but someone else has already accepted. Best of luck on your case, and message me if you need any help refining arguments to defeat con.
Posted by LadyLover123 2 years ago
@ragnar, yes, that's what I mean
@@asburnu, why do you mean? I got a challenger but they haven't posted their first point yet
Posted by Asburnu 2 years ago
What happened to the gay marriage debate? You had that one!
Posted by Ragnar 2 years ago
I assume by punish you mean direct legal sanctions for wrongful death?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Zarroette 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's counter-arguments did not scratch Pro's systematic, referenced arguments. Not only that, but Con forfeited a round, too. Arguments, sources and conduct to Pro.