Authorities believe 'homophobia' played a role in death of Anthony Avalos

(Anthony Avalos: GoFundMe)

County officials are questioning whether homophobia played a role in the death of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos. Avalos came out as gay in the recent weeks that led up to his death, he was found deceased last week with severe head injuries and cigarette burns all over his body. 

Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, revealed in an interview Monday that Anthony “said he liked boys” but declined to provide more details, including whom the boy told and when.

Anthony’s aunt, Maria Barron, told the Los Angeles Times it would have taken great courage for Anthony to have announced he was gay in the home.

The aunt said she started noticing bruises and other injuries on Avalos and the seven other children in the home. The kids reported they were from Kareem Leiva, Anthony's mother's boyfriend. The kids also said Leiva would lock them in small spaces where they had to urinate and defecate on the floor. The mother and Leiva have not been charged with any crimes relating to the death. 

For the boy to have come out amid those circumstances “only reinforces how brave Anthony was," Maria Barron said.

Anthony Avalos died at a hospital Thursday morning after reportedly suffering injuries from a fall. County officials removed seven other children from the home as the investigation continued.

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