Transgender supermodel Andreja Pejic

The highly politicised attacks that have taken place against organisations supportive of LGBTI youth -- such as Safe Schools Coalition Australia and Minus18 -- over the course of the past week represent an opportunity to show just how important such programs are. But they also reopen the door to a nightmare I experienced growing up that I'd thought was long since closed. While I'd always known that I was different, throughout the entirety of my school years it quickly became apparent that other students were able to sense that difference as well. My head was smashed into a bubbler so hard my teeth broke, both my wrists were fractured as a result of being crashed-tackled by a group of boys into a stack of surplus school desks then slammed into a door-frame. Chemical powders were thrown in my face during classes, and death threats tied to my identity were left on my family’s answering machine. Added in with language such as "red-headed rat rooter", "faggoty freak" and "hot-headed homo", among others, and it's not hard to see why, as a child, I self-harmed, seriously contemplated suicide and ultimately repressed who I was at that time at great psychological cost so that I could survive, because I felt that the entire world was against me. If the Safe Schools Coalition program had existed in the 1990s, my fellow classmates would have been encouraged to take a walk in my shoes and to realise just how much they were hurting me. I ultimately could have avoided such unnecessary trauma and decades of despair if supportive resources had been available when I needed their extensive cultural and religiously respectful school safety policies and plans the most. The Safe Schools Coalition has the ability to protect today’s children from going through what I did -- and conservative politicians want to dismantle the measure.

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