An 11-year-old boy who says he's been bullied because of his last name - Trump - will be one of US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump's guests at the State of the Union, the White House announced.
Joshua Trump, a sixth-grade student from Wilmington, Delaware, who is not related to the President, drew headlines last year after his parents went public to share stories of the abuse they said he had suffered because of his last name.
"They curse at him, they call him an idiot, they call him stupid," his mother, Megan Trump Berto, told ABC affiliate WPVI at the time.
The problem has been ongoing for years, his parents said. They pulled Joshua out of school for home schooling at one point but decided to enroll him in middle school with the hope that the bullying would decrease. It didn't.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
"He said he hates himself, and he hates his last name, and he feels sad all the time, and he doesn't want to live feeling like that anymore, and as a parent, that's scary," Trump Berto said.
The first family's other guests include Grace Eline, a child who was diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was 9; Judah Samet, a Holocaust survivor who lived through the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Ashley Evans, a recovering opioid addict; Elvin Hernandez, a special agent at the Department of Homeland Security who focuses on human trafficking; and Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong and Madison Armstrong - family members of a Nevada couple who authorities say were killed by an undocumented immigrant.
Melania Trump has made combating bullying one of her main priorities in the White House - the thrust of her "Be Best" initiative. But many have pointed to the disconnect between her work and her husband, who regularly employs sharp rhetoric and frequent verbal and personal attacks.
Trump Berto did not return a message left with her father. At least five students at Joshua's middle school have been disciplined for bullying-related issues, officials said previously.
The White House said Joshua was a fan of science, art and history and hoped to pursue a career that had something to do with animals.
"His hero and best friend is his Uncle Cody, who serves in the United States Air Force," the White House said.