Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.
It’s something we need to learn as adults, and it’s an essential skill we need to teach our children.
And it’s becoming imperative that we teach our children to accept those that are different to us, rather than judge and tease them about their differences.
No matter what we believe or how we are raised, we should view each person we meet as someone else’s baby. Someone else’s son, daughter, friend, lover… someone else’s other. Every person in this world is significant to someone.
But we don’t view people like that.
We view them as an individual, and judge their worth on whether they’re someone we want to be around or someone who is inferior or superior.
The way we view each individual person needs to change. Unless we see someone through the eyes of love and acceptance, behavior towards other human beings will never change.
I wonder if kids were taught how to be more accepting and curious about differences, whether Tyrone Unsworth would be still here today.
The 13-year-old committed suicide after being bullied for being gay. The year seven student was bullied to death.
The day before his suicide, the teen told a friend he was afraid to return to school. Tyrone faced homophobic taunts from other students because of his sexual preference and love of ‘girly’ things.
Gypsie-Lee Edwards Kennard told ABC program 7.30 that Tyrone was a mess on a fishing trip as he confessed how extensive he was bullied for being different.
“He was an absolute mess, crying his eyes out and telling me everyone wants him dead and I said, ‘Tyrone, what do you mean everyone wants you dead?’,” Ms Edwards Kennard told 7.30.
“He said, ‘The kids at school keep telling me to go kill myself’, and I was obviously gobsmacked.
“[The other students] did call him nasty names, like faggot and fairy.
“He loved girly things, he’s chosen dresses for me and his mum to wear, he’s asked to use make-up.
Ms Edwards Kennard pleaded with Tyrone to seek help from his teachers at the school he attended in Brisbane’s Northside.
“I said, ‘You need to speak to someone [at the school]’ and he said, ‘They don’t care’,” she said.
“He just felt like no-one wanted him around and he didn’t belong. It’s really hard to hear that from a child that’s only 13 years old.”
Constant bullying wasn’t the only abuse Tyrone experienced. A month ago Tyrone was in a fight with another student outside of school hours which left the 13-year-old hospitalized. Police are still investigating the assault.
“A kid and him, they fight a lot, this kid picked up a fence paling and hit him from behind and knocked him out and broke Tyrone’s jaw,” Ms Edwards Kennard said.
The assault had a major impact on Tyrone.
Twiggy Jones, Tyrone’s grandmother said, “He was very upset and sad and he didn’t want to go to school.”
Aspley State High School, the school where Tyrone attended, have admitted they didn’t know about the homophobic bullying that took place, yet the family say otherwise.
Education Queensland have said in a statement: “Tyrone’s family and friends have called for change before more young people die by suicide.”
And change is a must because we are hearing too many occurrences of bullying in our schools.
A more supportive environment for all schools has been up for discussion. Ms Edwards Kennard wished Tyrone was given the chance to open up at school.
“I wish that he could have expressed the feelings that he had and I don’t know why he couldn’t, and this one time that he did to me, afterwards he had to pretend everything was fine,” she said.
Tyrone’s death has sparked a call for the Safe Schools program to prevent queer students from being bullied.
A rally of people who gathered to remember Tyrone shared their own stories of loss due to suicide from bullying.
One man from the crowd, William, told 7:30, “I had a gay daughter who, in her mid-20s, committed suicide.”
“She was bullied and vilified from the beginning of school because she was different.
“It shouldn’t happen, we should have Safe Schools in all schools.”
Sex Education doesn’t discuss sexual or gender diversity which makes it hard for kids who identify as gay or transgender to be open about their differences.
Open Doors is an organization that supports young people in Brisbane who experience bullying because of their sexuality. General Manager, Pam Barker told 7.30, “Taunting, name calling, hitting, kicking, spitting, telling of stories and spreading of rumours [is common].”
Many schools want to provide education about sexuality but are afraid of discussing it properly because of the backlash from parents.
“They’re scared that their children will turn gay, their children will become transgender, that we’re teaching something outside of religious beliefs,” she said.
“Parents may backlash and get upset about it and they want us to tell the students about being sexually diverse or gender diverse but [they say], ‘Don’t tell them that much or don’t say this or don’t mention homosexuality or don’t mention transgender’.”
Whether Safe Schools should be introduced or not, is still a matter that needs to be reviewed. We can teach our kids about differences in sexuality, but just because they are taught about it, doesn’t mean they will accept someone who identifies as gay or transgender.
The responsibility belongs to us as parents to ensure our children and teens aren’t doing or saying things to others that they will regret. We need to lead by example on how to treat and accept others.
We also need to allow for an environment where our schools are supportive for all. Campaigns like ‘You can sit with me’ raises awareness for when someone is feeling isolated and needs support.
Bullying needs to stop because too many young people are taking their lives because they feel insignificant and unwanted.
But everyone is significant. Every single one of us.
Acceptance is what we wish for ourselves and often deny others but it’s time we stopped denying it.
Because someone’s life depends on it.
How can we stop bullying happening in our schools? What do you do as a parent to teach your child to accept others?
If you need counselling relating to bullying or suicide, please talk to someone.
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467