At school, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Jr. was teased, bullied relentlessly and accused of being gay. After weeks of harassment and a physical altercation with a classmate, Carl returned to the Walkers’ Springfield, Mass. home two years ago and hung himself.

Valerie Spencer, founder of Transcend Empowerment Institute, speaks with a Norfolk State University student during the CBCF's "Out on the Hill" event. (Macy L. Freeman/Macy L. Freeman)

Since her son’s death, Walker has devoted her time and energy to putting a stop to bullying in schools with the development of the Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation. On Friday, she participated in a panel during the Congressional Black Caucus focused on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Walker and her family have since had their home remodeled after being nominated for ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition as a result of the tragedy. The show is set to air in December.

One of the panelists during the forum was movie director Maurice Jamal, who said he could see himself in Carl’s story. Jamal grew up gay and has become a role model for gay youth with the release of his 2006 film “Dirty Laundry” starring Rockmond Dunbar and Loretta Divine.

“When I heard about Carl’s story, it rocked me to my core, because in so many moments of my life, I was him,” Jamal said. “I remember being in my bedroom thinking as a child that it would simply be easier for everybody if I wasn’t here.”

Walker was moved to tears. “I look at Maurice,” she said, “and I see my son Carl.”

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