762 Remember Tyrone, fight for Safe Schools

This story in the first place is about the tragic loss of Tyrone Unsworth. The 13-year-old Year 7 student of Aspley State High School in Brisbane took his own life, after being bullied over his sexuality. But secondly it is about the Safe Schools government program that has been criticized by - among many other conservatives - John Howard (not the actor, the former PM).

Read these SMH articles (excerpts below):

Tyrone Unsworth was just a little boy whose death was preventable

The tragic death of Tyrone Unsworth is the reason why we need Safe Schools

Safe School Coalition and What we do

Tyrone had suffered from homophobic bullying for years, being hospitalised not a month prior with severe injuries, violently assaulted by a fence paling so harshly that he needed surgery.

When he recovered, Tyrone was too frightened to return to school, fearing the harassment of his tormentors. His grieving mother Amanda spoke to Courier Mail, saying that "Tyrone ended up being gay and a lot of people started picking on him", that "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", and saying "I feel like these people who were bullying Tyrone are the cause of why he is not here anymore. They pushed him to the edge."

It's hard not to draw a line between this boy's dead body and the Safe Schools program, which plenty of people already have, and wonder if its wider adoption could have changed the behaviour of his bullies. It's hard not to want to tear out the news reports and send them to those grown-up bullies, those adults who attack, smear, vilify the people who drew up an optional educational tool to reduce the amount of hate people have to face. To send it to John Howard, who told Sky News earlier this year he was "concerned" about the Safe Schools program, "like most middle Australians".

"According to our culture and our society, those matters should be discussed by parents with their children," he said. "You don't need to be pursuing such a social agenda as the document is clearly pursuing in order to deal with bullying."

Like most middle Australians, whatever that means, Howard has never had to deal with the cold, hard fist of hate, of homophobia in words and in deeds. He's never had to suffer the indignity of an assault for being gay, of being attacked because someone's parents didn't bother to correct prejudice learnt from somewhere. That prejudice isn't our problem, but we cop the consequences.