A 15-year-old boy is suing Victoria’s Education Department over claims ongoing bullying about his sexuality left him suicidal.
Nathan Whitmore said for two years he was the victim of ongoing harassment and intimidation while a student at Somerville Secondary College because he was gay.
“He [a fellow student] called me a faggot, he called me useless,” Nathan said.
“He called me a pig, he basically called me everything you can think of.
“It got bad to the point I tried to killed myself twice because nothing was happening and I thought if I died, the whole bullying thing would stop.”
Nathan said the bully beat him up with a skateboard and threatened to stab him with a knife.
His mother Cathilee Whitmore said she made constant complaints to the principal, Christopher Lloyd, about the bullying but nothing was done.
She said the final straw came when her son tried to commit suicide and ended up in a psychiatric ward.
Ms Whitmore went to police and eventually took out an intervention order against her son’s tormentor.
In a letter entitled “ongoing bullying of Nathan Whitmore” seen by the ABC, Mr Lloyd stated the school “dealt with a number of incidents over the last two years involving ‘harassing and bullying'”.
The single mother-of-four said she had spent thousands of dollars in ongoing counselling to help her son.
Nathan continues to self harm. He still has scars on his arm where he picked his skin.
Bullying victim calls for free counselling
Nathan has called on Education Minister James Merlino to ensure all victims of school bullying receive free counselling.
His petition on change.org has more than 15,000 signatures.
Premier Daniel Andrews said what happened to Nathan was “sad”.
“The most important thing is that all of us have got to do better, we’ve got to work harder and make sure that every school is a safe place,” he said.
“I want every student to be valued for who they are and to be supported and be respected and to be able to attend school as part of a loving and caring environment where they can get the skills that they need to realise the unique potential that belongs to them.”
Nathan’s solicitor, James Brett Young from Shine Lawyers, said schools owed students a duty of care.
“Where this is breached, an institution may be held liable for the damage and may be compelled to compensate those who’ve been harmed,” he said.
“Schools are responsible for a providing students with safe and supportive educational environments and must ensure staff are appropriately trained to protect pupils from bullying and harassment.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull this week announced a review into the Safe Schools program, a taxpayer-funded scheme aimed at helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex (LGBTI) school students.
Mr Andrews said the Safe Schools program should not be revised.
The ABC has contacted the Department of Education for a response.