Furious parents have rallied around a heartbroken family to call for urgent anti-bullying action after the suicide of a transgender teenager last month.

Onyx Rose Lambert, 13, died at his home in the rural town of Beaudesert, 69km south of Brisbane, on July 16 after allegedly facing relentless harassment and cyber-bullying.

In the wake of the tragedy, Onyx’s sister Ivy vowed that her sibling’s death would not be in vain, and began campaigning for systemic anti-bullying reform.

Despite, or perhaps driven by her grief, she started a petition – which has gained more than 10,000 signatures – has hounded tBeaudesert State High School for answers and action and, last Friday, met with the Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace to discuss how schools can prevent and protect students from bullying.

And now she has arranged a rally in the rural Scenic Rim town to “show them (the school and Education Department) that we’re serious” about seeking reform.

“I’ve heard from so many concerned parents and students who are worried about what is happening at the school,” Ms Lambert told news.com.au.

“We want reform, there has to be reform in the school. What they’re doing now is not working, obviously, their policies are not working.”

Ms Lambert made signs and red T-shirts – Onyx’s favourite colour – for the Monday morning rally through the town, attended by local parents, anti-bullying advocates, and representatives of an LGBTQI+ support group from the Gold Coast.

The group marched through the town to stop opposite the high school where the alleged bullying occurred, chanting for “safe schools … now”.

In video of the rally, a large group of students can be seen waiting near the school carpark across the road watching and waving at the protesters while staff stand and watch from the carpark.

Ms Lambert said her family has been overwhelmed by the support the community and complete strangers have offered, even those who attended Onyx’s memorial service on July 29.

“It’s mind-blowing the amount of support we’ve felt, how many people are reaching out to say we’re here to support you even when they don’t live anywhere near us,” she said.

“It’s great, and makes the grief … I’m not saying it’s easier, but it’s more doable.”

At the service, Ms Lambert promised she would “not stop until this (state education) system has changed”.

“I will be your voice and they will hear us,” she told the congregation, the Courier Mail reports.

It looked like progress was being made in early August when senior officials from the Department of Education held parent consultation sessions at the school “to provide an opportunity for (parents) to be heard on key issues”.

After the meeting, a letter addressed from Beaudesert State High School Principal Grant Stephensen said the school was “committed to putting in place an action plan” based on the parents’ feedback.

In the meantime, it read, the school would prioritise following its incident response process, implementing bullying programs, and work to improve facilities, including toilets and construct a school fence “later this year”.

Last Friday, on the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, Ms Lambert and her mother Michelle met with Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace to discuss the list of demands to drive urgent change.

Ms Grace said in a statement to news.com.au she was “deeply saddened” to hear about Onyx’s death.

“As the parent of a non-binary child, Oynx’s death hit particularly close to home,” she added.

The minister affirmed the department’s “zero-tolerance approach to bullying” and commitment to “stamp it out” by working closely with the school and families on the issues raised in the in-person forum, saying “several suggestions … have been developed into an action plan”.

“Some – such as increasing the chaplain position from part time to full time, enhanced supervision during break times, and consultation on the Student Code of Conduct – are happening immediately, while others – like expanding year level play precincts and an extensive upgrade to the toilets – will take a little longer,” Ms Grace said.

“Bullying is not something schools can eradicate alone, which is why the plan includes working closely with parents, families, other agencies, and the broader school community.

“I, along with my Director General, personally met with Ivy and Michelle to hear their concerns firsthand, and my department is committed to keeping them and other families informed as the rollout of the plan continues.”

But Ms Lambert told news.com.au she has heard next to nothing from Beaudesert State High School – and that “the Education Department has been in contact with me more than the actual school”.

“I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall with them,” she said of the school.

“They never followed up when we reported the bullying, I’ve got emails that go back to the start of last year – a 38-page printout – that were not followed up.”

She said Onyx was showing “huge red flags” at school since July last year, including writing a letter for an English assignment that revealed his suicidal ideation.

But, still, she said, the school “did nothing”.

Since Onyx’s story first made headlines, a number of students have revealed details of “disgusting” and “degrading” treatment they face at the school, and alarming footage has emerged of Beaudesert teenagers brawling across the town.

It has also been revealed that Onyx is not the only Beaudesert High student to take their own life in the past two years.

Lilly Patricia Rose Osborne died by suicide on November 24, 2021, after her mother’s desperate pleas to “end the torture” of bullying were ignored by the school, the Courier Mail revealed.

The newspaper also reported several students at the school were on suicide watch, and unveiled the findings of internal surveys that showed an alarming number of children do not feel safe at the school.


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By Rahul

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