Playwright Kyle J Kash: I was bullied

Kyle Kash Gregory

Playwright Kyle J Kash has spoken out about his experiences of being bullied in a Perth High School.

Kash told the crowd at Saturday’s ‘Save Safe Schools’ about his personal experience. Kash said not long into his secondary education he was targeted by other students because of his perceived sexuality.

Attending a metropolitan public school in Perth the then thirteen year old student began experiencing bullying not long after his time in secondary school began.

“I was just trying to navigate the journey between being a child and an adult with insecurity and self awareness. It was at the age of 12 that I started to receive a very specific sort of bullying, one that took and identifier that was considered as bad or uncool and it was that was ‘gay’.

“School was ‘gay’, home work was ‘gay’, being grounded was ‘gay and now I was ‘gay’. Routinely other kids would come up to me and often without saying hello they’d go “Are you gay?”, in that annoying tone, which at the time as a 12 year old I responded ‘no’. They would almost immediately tell me ‘Yes you are.’

Kash told the crowd at the rally that this was the pointy where he began to feel that he was drowned out and that he no longer had a voice of his own. Not long after a friend told him how much he hated gay people and he began to experience physical assaults at school.

“It wasn’t long before this began to escalate, I remember someone who was a very close friends of mine at the time telling me that he and his family hate gay people, and that we should not exist, that we were wrong.

“I remember being tripped over because it’s funny to watch a gay kid fall. I remember that it was funny to stick you finger up at a gay kids if they looked at you. It was funny to pull their underwear down in the change rooms. And it was funny to berate them for wearing briefs over boxers – underwear, because that’s ‘gay’.

“And then it became funny one day to get a razor and shave the back of one gay kids head, so I had this bald spot on the back of my head, which was different to the rest of the mop of hair that I used to use to hide myself.

“So that shaved part came to my parents noticing, because it was not a mess like the rest of my hair, so they decided to give me a hair cut to even out that hair. I ended up being practically bald and in tears the moment I looked at myself in the mirror.

“My Mum knew how embarrassed I was too have such short hair, so she decided to dye it blonde to make me feel better because I like the blonde hair colour – as you can tell. I looked like a Polar bear, puffy eyed and very bright and yellow.

“I went to school the next day, and on that day not only was I gay, I was now also a skinhead. Which I didn’t know existed up until that point, so that was another name I had to add to the list.

The bullying Kash experienced at school got worse when one fellow student began to pick on his a lot. Kash said one day his bully grabbed hom by the back of the head and rammed his head into a pole.

“I remember blacking out, and I remember tasting blood in my mouth. And I remember being pushed into a wall because an upper-school kid decided that I took too long to move out of his way as I was fumbling around.

When said when he told a staff member the teacher simply turned to his bully and told them not to do that again. Unsurprisingly it did the little to stop the bullying from continuing.

“[He] would get other kids in the sports class to pick on me, and they would be harder on me, they would share with the girls how I was in the change rooms, how ‘gay’ I was, and they would threaten to beat me up and berate me at any opportunity where they could.

Kyle Kash 2Soon the effects of the bullying started have an effect on Kash’s attendance and grades.

“This made me feel so worthless as a person, than I felt before. I felt so nervous about going to school that I decided that I didn’t want to go to school anymore. I was so nervous that I would fake being sick almost every morning. I was able to force myself to vomit up this clear fluid from my stomach, some bile – just so I could convince Mum not to send me to school.

“I vomited so often that in Year 8 I wasn’t able to get grades higher than a C, because I just missed so much school, I just didn’t want to face being bullied every day.

Kash said one of the most concerning parts of his experience was the reaction he received from staff members.

“I would have kids in the class pick on me in front of the teacher and that I was ‘singing gaily’ and annoying them in class when I just being quiet and trying to do my work – and then I’d have to defend myself as a teacher would decide that I must have being doing something wrong.

Kash said the school eventually took action when his parent’s threatened legal action. The parents of Kash’s bully relocated their child to another school. The playwright noted that the school’s policy at the time also punished victims as well as their bullies.

“I remember the first time my Mum addressed my bullying at the school, the deputy asked me what I had done to provoke the other kids…. [The school] had a policy that if a kid hit you, you would both be suspended, because it ‘takes two to tango’.

Kash said if a program like the Schools Coalition has been in place when he was a high school student it might have made a significant difference to his school experience and education.

“If Safe Schools has been in place perhaps I would have been able sit through five years of the ignorance, the homophobia and the hatred. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been beaten or ridiculed or told who I am is different – and therefore I was wrong.” Kash said.

“Perhaps if I’d had Safe Schools LGBTI youth at the school would have had the opportunity to learn about their sexuality and their sexual orientation in a safe way.”

Kash said that while his school had a great sexual education program it had little content that related to same sex relationships.

The playwright said the opponents of the program should take a moment to think about how one of their own children might be treated if they are same sex attracted.

Kash said LGBTIQ youth should not allow homophobia and bullying to get them down.

“There’s a big queer world waiting for you, and it’s opened armed. Just remember whatever your age; I am worth it, you are worth it, we are worth it – and we are worth Safe Schools.”

Kash said he hoped his former school would sign up to the anti-bullying program.

Graeme Watson



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