Here’s What It’s Like To Grow Up Gay And Indigenous In Australia

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Indigenous people who identify as LGBT are more likely to suffer from some form of mental illness.

“At 16 the boys would call me abo, faggot, poofter. That was really detrimental to my psychological health and really played a huge role in my depression”, says Matthew Shields, 30.

Shields, a successful actor, dancer and registered nurse has suffered from chronic depression for years.

“When I was 14, the gay thing was kept a secret in me. I didn’t tell anyone. It was absolutely terrifying. I mean it was [the NSW country town of] Walgett 15 or 16 years ago, when homosexuality wasn’t even accepted in mainstream culture, imagine being in a small country town in western NSW,” he says.

Shields says homophobia and racism crippled him emotionally, and he often turned to self-harm.

“I felt extremely isolated. I used to self-harm a bit, just placing the pain somewhere else. I didn’t cut myself. I would, for example, walk along the wall and scrape my hand on the wall or punch the wall to place the pain somewhere else”.

Shields credits finding a supportive group of friends with helping him to overcome depression, but says he still has dark days.

“For me living with depression is an exhausting journey that feels like you’re in a dark place, and it’s really exhausting and constant sadness.”

Indigenous people coming to terms with their sexuality are often told that being gay is not a part of traditional culture, a notion that experts say is incredibly dangerous.

Indigenous people coming to terms with their sexuality are often told that being gay is not a part of traditional culture, a notion that experts say is incredibly dangerous.

Gregory Phillips (Photo by John Couch)

“When I was coming out and trying to reconcile being gay with my Aboriginal culture I was told by an elder very close to me that being gay didn’t exist traditionally. He told me it’s bad and all these awful things would happen to me,” Gregory Phillips tells Buzzfeed News.

Phillips is the author of Addictions and Healing in Aboriginal Country and an academic specialising in Indigenous health. He says it’s dangerous for the mental health of young people to hear that homosexuality has no place in their culture.

“Homophobia and stigma within our community are the biggest problem and the myth that homosexuality is a white man’s thing, well actually, homosexuality is a part of every culture and homosexuality appeared here before colonisation”.

Homophobic attitudes within the Indigenous community can be largely attributed to Christian missionaries who forbade Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living under the church’s care, under government orders, from practicing traditional culture. It was from this period that the idea of homosexuality being sinful became a common view within the Indigenous community – one that still prevails today.

In 2013, boxer Anthony Mundine created controversy when he expressed disgust about the plot of ABC drama Redfern Now, which featured a homosexual Aboriginal relationship.

“Watching Redfern Now and they [sic] promoting homosexuality! (Like it’s ok in our culture) that ain’t in our culture and our ancestors would have their head for it! Like my dad told me God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve,” he wrote on Facebook.

“Mundine’s comments are completely ill-informed and he’s confused about his own identity and religion. Mundine is quoting the bible while he is a Muslim all while presenting as a traditional Aboriginal, so I don’t know what he’s doing, it’s rubbish and damaging,” Phillips says.

As a young Aboriginal boy growing up in the small town of Deniliquin in regional New South Wales, Steven Ross always knew he was different.

As a young Aboriginal boy growing up in the small town of Deniliquin in regional New South Wales, Steven Ross always knew he was different.

Steven Ross (Stelios Papadakis)

“On this particular summer day, after my father had been looking after me (I sat in the corner of the local TAB while he bets on the horses), we arrived back home to discover he’d left the house keys inside. He ordered me to climb through the window to open the door, but I refused,” Ross wrote in a personal essay for Archer Magazine last year.

“His response was to verbally abuse me. For the first time in my life I was called a ‘poofter’. I didn’t know what this word meant, but considering the tone of its delivery, I knew it couldn’t be a good thing,”

“When I came out to my father, he told me he used to bash people like me. Whenever we fought, homophobic insults were not off limits”.

It was Ross’s mother who allowed him to be proud of his sexuality.

“I really think racism and homophobia are just colonial processes, to be honest. They are social diseases and I felt like I had people around me immune to that,” Ross tells BuzzFeed News.

Ross hopes his writing will inspire other young gay Aboriginal people and believes it’s essential to raise awareness of the damage homophobia can cause.

“Like most cultures we [Indigenous people] are able to change and recognise difference, and I believe that gay identity has always been part of Aboriginal culture,” Ross says.

“It defies logic that there were no gay Aboriginal people before 1788. It might not look like what the LGBT community looks like now. The stigma can be devastating and lead to high suicide rates and depression”.

Steven’s sister Laura Ross is a mental health worker in regional NSW, she says the health system is ill-equipped to deal with the Aboriginal LGBT community in remote and regional areas.

Steven's sister Laura Ross is a mental health worker in regional NSW, she says the health system is ill-equipped to deal with the Aboriginal LGBT community in remote and regional areas.

Laura Ross (Supplied)

They grim reality is suicide, depression, drug and alcohol abuse and risky sexual behaviours are much higher amongst the Indigenous LGBT community experts say.

“You never really know what the response is going to be from your treating team. There are still old-fashioned views out there and if you couple that with being Indigenous and from the country and gay or transgender you are really on the back foot,” Laura tells BuzzFeed News.

Laura, who is also gay, says that in some cases people seeking help in the bush are slipping through the cracks.

“If a client was to disclose that they were transgendered or gay the resources we have in the community are just never going to meet the needs of these clients,” Laura says.

Casey Conway, 30, is the first Aboriginal male model to lead a campaign for swimwear label Sluggers. He’s now proudly, openly gay, but as a teenager all he wanted to do was suppress his sexuality.

Casey Conway, 30, is the first Aboriginal male model to lead a campaign for swimwear label Sluggers. He's now proudly, openly gay, but as a teenager all he wanted to do was suppress his sexuality.

Casey Conway in the Sluggers campaign (Sluggers Swimwear)

“I was probably in my late teens and finishing up high school and I was with a really nice girl for a couple of years and I felt something wasn’t quite right,” Conway tells BuzzFeed News.

“When I started to realise that I was sexually attracted to guys it really did freak me out and I went through a phase where it was going to be my big dark secret forever”.

Conway would go on to become a successful rugby league player, but was plagued with worry about the potential backlash he would receive if he came out as gay.

Today Conway is a not only a model but also a youth worker advocating for open and honest discussion around mental health issues within the Indigenous community. He says that encouraging young people to be proud of their identity and sexuality is imperative.

“Working in the youth sector I see a lot of kids, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous trying to come to terms with it and I always say to them, “there is always someone to help you if you reach out and there have been people who have walked this path before you, you’re not alone.”

To learn more about depression, check out the resources at BeyondBlue Australia or ReachOut. If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can speak to someone immediately at Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

If you are based in 

Northern Ireland

You are not alone, if you want to talk to someone then you can contact:

  • Carafriend Telephone – 0808 8000 390 FREE – Free from landlines and most mobiles: 3, EE, O2, Virgin and Vodafone

  • NIGRA – 07719576524 and we will ring you back to take the call charges


Action points to improve LGBT life in Europe published




European Members

A list of action points to improve LGBT equality in the EU has been published.

Yesterday, Commissioner for Justice and Gender Equality Věra Jourová presented a List of actions by the Commission to advance LGBTI Equality in the EPSCO Council, where the EU Ministers responsible for employment and social policy meet.

The list is to be seen as a follow-up to the Parliament’s demand for an EU Roadmap against homophobia, the so-called ‘Lunacek-report’, which was adopted in February 2014.

The document is not a ‘roadmap’ or ‘strategy’ as the parliament requested, but highlights actions in a number of areas where the Commission will be active on LGBTI issues, including anti-discrimination policy, freedom of movement for LGBTI families, workplace diversity, enlargement and foreign policy.

The Commission also foresees a communication campaign to improve the social acceptance of LGBTI people.

The list does not contain new legislative proposals, e.g. in the areas of hate speech and hate crime, or freedom of movement, as the Parliament had demanded in its report.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBTI Intergroup and author of the European Parliament’s roadmap report, said: “I am very glad to see that Commissioner Jourová has listened to the Parliament and put on paper a list of actions confirming the EU’s commitment to further LGBTI equality inside and outside of the EU.”

“Homo-, lesbo- and transphobia make everyday lives of lesbians, gays and transgender people difficult, in many parts of the EU and even more so worldwide. They are severe and persistent phenomena, which require EU-wide coordination and action, and strong emphasis in support of LGBTI human rights defenders in other parts of the world.”

Daniele Viotti MEP, Co-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, added: “Although all content of this list is positive, it is a missed opportunity that the Commission did not want to go the extra mile. Many possible actions, for which parliamentary support exists, have been left out. This includes mutual recognition of civil status documents, and including sexual orientation and gender identity in existing EU-wide hate crime legislation.”

“We will continue to push the Commission to also work on these issues.”

This man hopes to end the stigma surrounding male rape by telling his story

Monday, December 7, 2015


A must-read essay by Dean Eastmond recounts his harrowing experience being raped, and the aftermath.


In a powerful new essay published by The Independent, writer Dean Eastmond opens up about being raped three years. Eastmond was 16-years-old when the 2012 Olympic games took place in London. “My quaint little hometown of Weymouth hosted the sailing events,” he recalls, “and I ended up as an Olympic attendant, serving food to athletes and their crews. Not a bad first job, I guess.” During the course of the job, Eastmond befriended another guy who was a couple years older than him. “We used to get the same bus into work each morning,” he writes. “He looked and acted like a nice enough guy. He was always smiling, and popular with our other colleagues. As a shy and closeted teenager, I looked up to him as a friend.” One evening, the man asked Eastmond if he could hang out at his flat before Eastmond had to go and work the late shift. Thinking nothing of it, Eastmond said yes. “Before I knew it, my trousers had been pulled down and he was on top of me,” he recalls. “All I remember is the pain, and my vision becoming blurred by the intense fear that swept over me. It was my first ever sexual encounter.” After the encounter, Eastmond still managed to go to work that night. “I left the house to go to work, but he stayed inside my room,” he writes. “I was terrified at the thought of still finding him in my room when I got back from my shift. This was a nightmare that haunted me for weeks after: walking into my bedroom at any time, and finding the man who raped me sitting there.”This man hopes to end the stigma surrounding male rape by telling his story – LGBTQ Nation – Page 2

Three years later, Eastmond says he still feels “an indistinguishable sense of fear, doubt, worthlessness and discomfort” over the incident, which he never told his parents about or reported to police.

“I was trapped within what my rapist had done, and unable to reach out to anyone for help,” he writes. “I thought I’d be outed as gay and rejected. I know this sounds silly. But it was what I thought, and I know it’s the same for others who have been sexually abused.”

Citing a group called Rape Crisis, Eastmond says as many as 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales every year.

“We should make sure that we’re addressing the issue of male rape,” he says, adding that as many as 98 percent of male rape victims don’t report the crimes. “And I’m included in that figure,” he adds.

“Unless such issues are spoken about and understood more, I doubt this statistic will ever change.”

Eastmond hopes that by sharing his story he can be a part of the change.

“I’m talking because I know it’s the right thing to do,” he writes. “No one should let their experiences rot away within themselves. No means no, no will continue to mean no — and male rape needs to be spoken about, urgently.”


If you are in Northern Ireland 

You are not alone, if you want to talk to someone then you can contact:

  • Carafriend Telephone – 0808 8000 390 FREE – Free from landlines and most mobiles: 3, EE, O2, Virgin and Vodafone

  • NIGRA – 07719576524 and we will ring you back to take the call charges

The Albert Kennedy Trust

Albert Kennedy Trust Logo


It’s cold out there. And right now 4,800 young lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans peopleare homeless or living in hostile environments. In most cases they have been driven outof their family homes because of parental rejection, abuse from within the family, and aggression or violence.

It’s unacceptable. There’s should be no room for hate.

At The Albert Kennedy Trust we offer support and accommodation to get young people back on their feet. But we need your support.

Your cash pledge to The Albert Kennedy Trust will make a difference to the lives of young, homeless LGBT people.

PLEASE visit… and give what you can to ensure no young person is cold and at risk of harm on the streets this Winter.

All of us: New educational resource to promote LGBT diversity in Australian schools


27 November 2015

The program is funded by the federal government and will be available to teachers next year

Snap 2015-12-06 at 14.30.37

Targeted at Year 7 and 8 students (12/13 years olds), All of US is the first resource of its kind to be launched and funded by the Australian federal government’s Department of Education.

The practical teaching kit was commissioned by LGBTI youth group Minus 18 and Safe Schools Coalition Australia which has more than 470 member schools dedicated to promoting LGBT diversity and acceptance in schools and reducing bullying against same-sex attracted and gender diverse students.

All Of Us has been developed to have a real impact on student attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and to encourage whole school change that affirms and supports the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school,’ says the official website.

Comprising seven video lessons, student handouts and posters, the program will form part of the health and physical education curriculum, and available for download and to all schools in both the public and private sector.

The videos explore the impact of homophobia and transphobia on students and schools, and explain what it’s like for a transgender young person to come out and affirm their gender.

Claiming that the Safe Schools Coalition Australia will ‘teach kids gay and lesbian techniques’, the Australian Christian Lobby has called for the program to be axed, the Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier this month.

Sally Richardson, national program director of Safe Schools said the latest resource has been driven and developed by teachers, and was in response to teachers who have for a long time asked for ‘additional support in the classroom to help teach topics of gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex.’

The Prevention of Suicide Through Unconditional Love

You are not alone, if you want to talk to someone then you can contact:

  • Carafriend Telephone – 0808 8000 390 FREE – Free from landlines and most mobiles: 3, EE, O2, Virgin and Vodafone

  • NIGRA – 07719576524 and we will ring you back to take the call charges

LGBT Christmas

LGBT Christmas

Reprinted from THE BLOG:

The Prevention of Suicide Through Unconditional Love | Chloe Hollett, J.D.

No parent who has lost a child to suicide ever predicted it happening. Parents and caregivers with LGBT children: Please face the sad truth that your son or daughter may be eight times more likely to attempt suicide. The holiday season, celebrated in a religiously- and politically-charged climate, is difficult for many, but to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons they are extra challenging. Unconditional love strengthened me, and it may provide the same for your child.

After devouring the offerings of Thanksgiving, while still seated at the table, time came to fulfill a family tradition born of my mother’s early ’90s new age focus on the importance of sharing our feelings. We each awkwardly crammed a year’s worth of gratitude into a 30-second impromptu monologue. When the warmth of the spotlight focused on me, I disregarded the patience of the less emotionally in-touch family, so obviously seated in frustration, let the estrogen flow, and offered a rambling exposé on how each of them contributed to my happiness. I saved my mother for last, articulating how her always steadfast and unqualified support is to what I owe my successes. After concluding my long-winded response, she reflected appreciation by sharing how, when meeting another parent, she tells the account of why, if not for her, I might not be alive today.

As those that know my mother will attest, she, in only the best way possible, sees no boundaries with whom and in what manner she should interact, paying little attention to social normative behavior that interferes with meeting her goals. So, when she says every mother, she literally means EVERY MOTHER she encounters. From the unfortunate woman tending the checkout at whichever retail establishment she finds herself, to her seamstress that barely understands a word of English, to random women at the mall with strollers that seem to beckon her to approach and offer unsolicited motherly wisdom. When mentioning her children to new acquaintances, in what I suspect is a personal campaign to educate the planet on gender psychology, she shows a glamorous photo of me at a highfalutin event, and, after allowing a moment for remarks on owing my looks to her, quickly swipes to my senior prom photo and proudly exclaims, “she was my son.”

Growing up in the overcrowded town of Conservative-Christian-White-Middle-Class-America-Ville, I struggled down the road of self-discovery. Challenged by typical teenage concerns, confused by my sexuality and gender, and appalled by my future as a non-conforming oddity, I plummeted into an inescapable pit of despair. This hopeless struggle climaxed when I scaled the rafters of our garage, tied one end of a rope around a beam, and the other around my neck. With intentions of sealing this chapter, after saying my tear-filled prayers for forgiveness, I realized I could not do it. The thought of my mother suffering the agony of discovering my lifeless body was the only thing preventing me from jumping.

Not until the drive home from the Thanksgiving dinner was I able to ask my partner for her take on my mother’s sharing of my story, and inquire into whether it served any purpose. Resolutely, she said, “It describes how a parent’s love can so dramatically impact the lives of their children,” and that my mother has assuredly affected the futures of many families. I only understood my mother’s pride in this narrative in terms of her joy for how much I love her, but seeing it from this perspective taught that my mother’s love for me was what fostered my love for her, and what inspired me to change my course that fateful night.

The tools necessary to tackle all life’s challenges are not standard equipment, but generally developed through experiential learning. If repeatedly we fail to overcome an obstacle, giving up may seem like an option. The clichéd understanding of suicide as a permanent solution for temporary problems aims to undermine its viability with logic, yet it presupposes clarity of mind. Depression, chronic and situational, distorts rationality, preventing sight of this decision’s obvious shortcoming. However, this consideration of permanency extends beyond the one suffering, and reminds us of the tremendous responsibility for those within our influence.

This account makes no assertions about the relationships among parents and children that have taken their lives. Although suicide is not seasonally dependent, the festivities may bring many LGBT persons more dread than cheer. Reflect on your relationship with your child this holiday season. A parent’s assurances of unconditional love can be the difference between life and death.

Further reading:

LGBT charity launches sex guide for young people

Paul Cardwell's photo

TFN – 1st December 2015 by Paul Cardwell

Good sex is top pic

​LGBT Youth Scotland wants to teach young men about the pleasure of anal sex as well as how to do it safely

A Scottish charity for young LGBT people has released a guide to anal sex to coincide with World AIDS Day.

LGBT Youth Scotland and NHS Lothian launched the ‘Good Sex Is…’ guide, in a bid to meet the needs of young men who have sex with men.

The guide not only teaches men about the facts of anal sex but also about the pleasure of the practice, which the charity says is often missing from other resources.


This is information young people should be told, instead of them trying to find out information from websites which is often wrong – and hardly ever talks about pleasure.

‘Good Sex Is…’ was produced to provide men with nformation on safe sex, and can also be used to help professionals discuss the subject with young people.

Written with direct input from LGBT young people, the guide discusses sex in language young people themselves use, covering aspects of sex that are particularly relevant and vital to them.

Commenting on the initiative, a young person who helped to develop this resource said: “This is information young people should be told, instead of them trying to find out information from websites which is often wrong – and hardly ever talks about pleasure.

“I hope this makes things better for young people and that they also learn about good relationships too!”

Research into sexual health has shown that men who have sex with men are the group most at risk of acquiring HIV in the UK, resulting in a major focus on prevention initiatives targeting this group.

Dona Milne, deputy director for public health at NHS Lothian, added: “Some of the men who took part in a needs assessment survey told us that services must be willing, and be comfortable, to have conversations with men about anal sex and reduce the stigma associated with it.

“We know that younger men (aged under 26), are less likely to engage with services and have distinct HIV prevention needs; some are very sexually active with higher partner numbers and condomless anal sex episodes.

“They need to be engaged in discussion about safe, consensual sex that is pleasurable, and be supported to delay anal sex until they are ready.”

Fergus McMillan, chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, said: “We are using World AIDS Day to launch this excellent, accessible and plain-speaking resource about anal sex and pleasure, co-produced by young people, with youth workers and health professionals, which responds to a request from young people for this information.

“We hope that young people and adults who work with them, will use the resource to help address any concerns young people might have, in particular young men who have sex with men.”


Gay marriage is a matter for Stormont





16:52Tuesday 01 December 2015

Same Sex MarriageSame-sex marriage in Northern Ireland is for Stormont to decide on, the Attorney General told a court today.

John Larkin QC described it as an issue of “pure social policy” that should be left with the devolved administration.

His assessment came in proceedings brought by a gay couple whose marriage has no legal recognition in their native Northern Ireland.

The two men claim that being limited to civil partnership status within the region amounts to unlawful discrimination.

They are seeking a landmark declaration that their marriage remains fully constituted throughout the UK.

Granted anonymity in the case, the petitioner ‘X’ and his husband wed in London last year.

But under current laws they can only be classified as civil partners in Northern Ireland.

Legislation passed in the rest of the the UK and the Irish Republic allows same-sex couples to marry.
Last month Stormont voted in favour of the same change in law for the first time.

However, the Democratic Unionists blocked it by deploying a mechanism requiring the proposal to achieve a cross-community majority.

The petition, backed by gay rights group The Rainbow Project, has been taken against the Northern Ireland Assembly and the UK Government.

In first case of its kind counsel for X and his husband claimed their marriage has been “demeaned, devalued and undermined” by the situation.
The ban breaches rights to privacy and family life, religious freedom and entitlement to marry under the European Convention on Human Rights, it was contended.

X and his husband were able to wed in England following the introduction of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013.

As the case resumed at the High Court today, Mr Justice O’Hara asked if the same same legal position should apply throughout the UK.

The Attorney General replied: “No, it’s a matter of pure social policy … being a transferred matter it’s for the devolved administration and the Executive.”

Mr Larkin insisted that the 2013 Act was clear, irrespective of how long a couple spend married in the rest of the UK.
He added: “It doesn’t matter, this is a general provision under which every same-sex marriage is for the purpose of the law in Northern Ireland treated as a civil partnership.”

The case continues.

Read more:

Gay CURE Watch


Gay CURE Watch

Thanks to over 1,600 All Out members who chipped in, we’re launching – an online tool where anyone around the world can report dangerous gay “cure” facilities and seminars in their community. We’ll then use our huge people power to work together and get these places shut down for good.

We know you can’t catch “gay” and you can’t cure it either – but around the world, extremist groups are promoting dangerous “therapy” sessions and seminars to “fix” people for who they love, using tactics from degrading verbal abuse to painful electroshocks and drugs.


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Stories from friends, ads, or any promotions of “conversion” therapy.


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Tom Daley Joins CN's Anti-Bullying Campaign

tvkids_logoBy Joanna Padovano
Published: November 16, 2015

LONDON: Cartoon Network has partnered with British Olympic diver Tom Daley to launch the next phase of its
international anti-bullying initiative, CN Buddy Network, in the U.K.

CN Buddy Network encourages young people to “Be a buddy, not a bully,” aiming to raise awareness and empower kids to take action against bullying. Daley appears in an on-air campaign that debuts on Cartoon Network today and also includes an original series of animated shorts spotlighting the viewpoints of the bully, the bullied and the observer. The initiative is being launched in collaboration with ChildLine, a U.K. helpline that provides immediate advice and support to those in need.
Children can visit for more information, resources and professional advice. They can also watch the original animated shorts and video messages from Daley, English rapper Tinie Tempah and ChildLine ambassador and volunteer counselor Anna Williamson on Cartoon Network UK’s YouTube channel.

Daley commented: “I jumped at the chance to work with Cartoon Network and ChildLine on this as I know only too well what it feels like to be bullied. I had things thrown at me at school and was rugby tackled on the school field for no reason and it made me feel terrible. It made me question whether I wanted to be a diver if it meant suffering in this way as a consequence. It was such a relief when I finally told someone.

“My advice: if you’re being bullied, or you know someone that is, please remember that it’s not your fault and you’re not alone. Bullying is never acceptable and there is nothing shameful about asking for help—speaking up is the first step in making things better.”

Williamson noted: “Bullying is still one of the most common issues that children call ChildLine about but the difference is that nowadays it can follow children wherever they are. It’s not just in the playgrounds or on the way to and from school. It’s in their pockets—it follows them on their phones, on social networks as well as face to face and the 24-hour nature of it can be relentless. For some children it seems like there’s no escape which can cause anxiety and distress. It is so important that we, as adults, take time to listen to our children and help support them through bullying issues. It is also important to keep up with online issues so we can help children navigate safety settings and block unwanted contact. And if children feel they can’t talk to anyone, they can always contact ChildLine, 24/7 for confidential advice and support.”

Ian McDonough, the senior VP and managing director of Turner Broadcasting for Northern Europe, added: “Our work with ChildLine has reaffirmed the fact that many of our Cartoon Network audience are affected by bullying every single day, whether in person or online. This is a very real issue and it’s important to us to address it in any way we can to show our viewers that there is help and support out there. Our series of short anti-bullying cartoons and Tom Daley PSA gently address the issue, encouraging kids to talk about their experiences, be a good friend and offer support to others.”