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13-year-old boy took his own life ‘after years of homophobic bullying’

By Will Stroude

A young Australian teenager has tragically killed himself after suffering years of homophobic abuse.

Tyrone Unsworth, a year 7 student at Aspley state high school in Brisbane, was just 13 when he took his own life on Tuesday (November 22). Tyrone’s mother, Amanda, said that her son was targeted by bullies because of his perceived sexuality.

“He was a really feminine male, he loved fashion, he loved make-up and the boys always picked on him, calling him gay-boy, faggot, fairy; it was a constant thing from Year 5,” she told The Courier Mail.

Ms Unworth paid tribute to her son on Facebook, writing, “We Love and Miss you so much Tyrone. We will stand up and fight to get as much awareness help and support for others out there, SAY NO TO BULLYING.”

Tyrone’s funeral will be held on 1 December at Albany Creek, and his mother has requested that attendees wear brightly-coloured clothes.

Responding to the news of the young teen’s suicide, Micah Scott, CEO of Australian LGBT youth support group Minus18, said it “isn’t an isolated incident.”

[Experiences of anti-LGBT bullying are] shared by LGBTI young people around Australia. I think that is really important to highlight,” he added.

The principal of the school Tryone attended, Jacquinta Miller, said in a statement that the school didn’t tolerate bullying, and urged the community against “inflaming what is already a complex and challenging situation”.

She told The Courier Mail: “Neither the student nor his family ever came to us to say there was a problem of any kind.

“If they did, we absolutely would have stepped in.”

Responding to Tyrone’s death, Labor leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, said: “People should be aware of the terrible consequences when people are bullied.”

“This is a tragic event and my heart goes out to Tyrone’s family. This why anti-bullying programs matter and why we need to defend the Safe Schools program.”

The Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA) is the first national program funded by the Australian Government aimed at creating safe and supportive school nvironments for LGBT people.

Over the past year the program has faced repeated attacks from groups including the Australian Christian Lobby, The Australian newspaper and other News Corp titles, as well as a number of conservative MPs.

In a statement, The Safe Schools Coalition reiterated the need for greater anti-bullying efforts:

“[Safe Schools] exists because research shows that students at safe and supportive schools have better educational outcomes and are less likely to have poor mental health outcomes,” said spokesperson Craig Comrie.

“Research also highlights that young LGBTI people suffer higher rates of poor mental health and suicide due to bullying and discrimination.”

In a Facebook post, the Australian Family Association, distanced themselves from Tyrone’s suicide, writing: “Activists are already saying it may not have happened if the schools used the SSCA ‘Safe Schools’ program.

However, SSCA is not about bullying. In fact it sexualises kids and normalises risky sexual activity and disease. Schools need genuine anti-bullying programs not confusing sexual ideology.”

A number of LGBT people have come out in support of Safe Schools on Twitter in response to Tyrone’s death.

One user wrote: “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.”

If you’re concerned about your own wellbeing or that of a loved one, call the Samaritans on 116 123 (UK) or 116 123 (Republic of Ireland).

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