WARNING: This story might be distressing for some readers. If you are in distress, or if you or someone you know are being bullied, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 338 881 for anonymous, 24/7 counselling and advice.
The tragic death of Tyrone Unsworth as a result of constant torment about his sexuality is just another piece of evidence to show that the Safe Schools policy and programs are an absolute no-brainer.
The longer we debate about this, the more innocent kids we are wilfully letting slip beyond our grasp.
It’s very easy for adults to distance themselves from the schoolyard and its dynamics.
The awkwardness of blindly navigating puberty; emotions and feelings that just don’t sit right in our chests; the importance of having the coolest backpack on the first day of each year; the fear of showing up to a mufti-day with your uniform on.
It’s all a bit of a distant memory for the people who are putting together the policies for schools, those who determine what does – and doesn’t – get taught in the classroom.
The debate over Safe Schools comes at a difficult time, one where we’re seeing a whole new generation of teens exploring and redefining what sexuality and gender means.
To people who say there’s no guarantee that Safe Schools will save lives, all you’re actually saying is that it’s not worth even trying.
— Emily / (@emilytruem8) November 25, 2016
Society is probably the queerest it’s been in recorded history, and questioning sexuality and gender on top of the turbulence of puberty and schoolyard popularity contests is near impossible to navigate alone.
It goes beyond the realm of young people who are questioning their identities, too.
The Safe Schools program helps to support and remove the taboo of everyone who identifies at LGBTQIA+; vital barriers of protection for vulnerable children that have not previously existed.
It supports children of rainbow families, so that there’s no repeat of what I copped as a kid in primary school – with other children calling my family ‘dirty’ and ‘filthy’.
It helps to erase prejudice and hate. It helps people to heal and understand that no two family units are the same, and that’s ok.
It’s simple: homophobia kills. And around Australia, queer kids like Tyrone Unsworth are subjected to this hate on a daily basis. #RIPTyrone
— Matthew Wade (@MatthewRWade) November 24, 2016
This is why we desperately need gender and sexuality education in our foundational education systems. We need to adapt our educational systems to reflect the society around us.
Our country not only needs, but also deserves laws and policies that protect and nurture some of the most marginalised groups in its population.
We need to stop kids from teasing each other because they identify as something beyond the pigeonholes of an extremely hetero-normative society.
We need to stop kids dying from suicide because they feel so fucking alone.
We need to tell our youth – the future of this country – that it gets better.
This is why we have been fighting. The safe schools stuff, the homophobic language, it is not abstract to us, and it has consequences for us
— Bec Shaw (@Brocklesnitch) November 25, 2016
The Safe Schools Coalition shouldn’t have to make these statements about the youth of our nation.
Every LGBT teen death is blood on the hands of the policymakers and adults of Australia who are blind to the importance of inclusive education.