Friends of 13-year-old Harley “Kitty” McGuire have been banned from wearing t-shirts supporting an anti-bullying campaign. McGuire’s family believes that bullying over her dress and sexual orientation pushed her to commit suicide.
McGuire’s uncle, Timothy (26) told the Portland Press Herald “She was trying to figure out her sexuality," he said. "She was trying to figure out who she was."
He believes the 13-year-old would not have committed suicide if it hadn’t been for the teasing around her sexual orientation. He wants Regional School Unit 3 (RSU 3) to “admit they have a bullying problem.”
In the days after McGuire took her own life, fellow students were initially asked to remove the buttons, bracelets and t-shirts that they wore in her memory and against school bullying. This was done under the advisement of mental-health consultants who said that “accidental memorializing” of the tragedy was something that the school needed to avoid.
RSU 3 Superintendent, Heather Perry, said that the causes of McGuire’s suicide are likely to be “multiple and complex” but did admit that there were three separate instances where students came forward to report that McGuire was being teased and that the school is seriously looking into the allegations of bullying.
"We are taking it seriously and conducting an investigation," she told the Bangor News."We haven't come to any conclusions yet. When we have, we will share that."
McGuire’s uncle has expressed a wish that the school get a “wake up call’ and the family hopes that the school administrators will pay more attention to bullying and how those students who have committed suicide are allowed to be grieved and remembered.
Although students were encouraged to speak with the counselors available and to write letters and cards for McGuire’s the family felt that the students were not being allowed to show their grief but were being silenced.
Timothy McGuire, who described his niece as a “good kid” with a great sense of humor, has expressed his understanding of the danger in accidental memorializing but is frustrated with what he sees as the school’s ‘“Don’t talk about it’ approach.”’
A gathering at the school on Monday in protest of bullying and in honor of McGuire, seen family members and friends hold up signs in remembrance of McGuire and requesting that the school change its stance on bullying.