Being faced with bullying and discrimination can make you believe who you are is wrong, which can lead to anxiety, depression, self-harm and more, Tabby says.
Tabby was lucky to have a supportive school and an accepting family, but she was still bullied.
Most discrimination comes from a lack of understanding, so Tabby advocates for education and awareness.
“Shaming people doesn’t work, it makes them defensive, but giving them the information they need to make their own choices about their behaviour can be a really powerful way to encourage change,” she says.
Tabby’s school, Nayland College, was the first in Australasia that she knows of to have a queer straight alliance (QSA).
“I think having a peer support group in my school sent a really powerful message that it was okay to be who I was, that my school accepted and celebrated my identity,” she says.
Tabby became passionate about the QSA and later became student leader of the group.
After helping set up Q-Youth, a community group and drop-in centre in Nelson and QSA groups at the other schools, Tabby was inspired to start InsideOUT. InsideOUT wants to make all Kiwi schools safer for students of diverse sexualities and genders.
In June 2015, Tabby is off to London to attend the inaugural Queen’s Young Leaders Awards.
She is being recognised as an exceptional leader for her work to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex and queer young people feel supported at school. Tabby is one of 60 young people internationally, and the only Kiwi, to get this award.
“This award is really special because the efforts of young people in the rainbow community are very rarely recognised, yet there are so many working to make a difference. The visibility of this award means a lot.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION