THE MOTHER of a teenage girl who took her own life because she couldn’t handle the ridicule of being gay says better education about LGBTI issues in schools could have saved her daughter’s life.

Kelly Moorhead, 36, from Dumfries, lost her daughter Chloe Orr three months ago. The confident, fun-loving teenager had come out just 12 months before her death, at the age of 14. Her twin sister Samantha followed three months later, telling Moorhead she was bisexual.

The 36-year-old mum said the whole family was supportive of the girls, and she herself was “so proud” they had the courage to come out at such a young age.

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Entering the LGBTI community as a family for the first time, Moorhead said she quickly realised public attitudes were not as accepting as she assumed they would be, with homophobic abuse still rife.

She explained: “My Chloe used to get told ‘You choose this life'. That's something a lot of people think, adults included, not just children. A lot of them are just picking up the adults' attitudes. If the parents are that way inclined then their kids usually are as well.

“Unless it’s personal in their own family, and they know someone related who is gay then it seems to change but from what I know and all the messages I’ve had since Chloe died, it's absolutely horrendous.

“All the grief and the stigma that they have to put up with is awful. Until my daughters came out I had no idea these kinds of attitudes still existed in this day and age.”

Moorhead said Chloe was comfortable with her sexuality on the outside and would always hit back if she faced bullying or abuse. But over time, day in day out, Moorhead realised it must have been affecting her daughter more than she knew.

“[Chloe] would come in the odd time and say ‘Such-and-such has asked us if me and Samantha have kissed and said we must have because we're both gay'.” she explained.

“I'd just tell her they're just kids, they don't understand but these kinds of things really got Chloe. “What got her most was if she had an argument with someone at school and they'd call her a dyke. I'm just realising now that although she was no-nonsense, and she wouldn’t take any nonsense from anyone, every time she was getting called something it obviously has been hurting her.”

On the day of Chloe’s death she had been at home, and spent the day with her mum and twin sister. Around 2.45pm Moorhead picked up her youngest child from school and went to visit her sister before returning home.

She said: “I had only been at my sister's half an hour and Chloe phoned me on FaceTime.

“I spent half an hour on the phone with her, laughing and joking with my nieces and nephews, and I noticed my battery was going low. I said I was going to go and we were just heading home on the bike, so we would be about 20 minutes. By the time I got home she had done it.”

Moorhead, her mother and her daughter Samantha eventually found Chloe’s body in the garden shed after hearing her phone ringing outside.

In the hours, days and weeks that followed, Moorhead’s life was turned upside down. She discovered a note Chloe had left – three pages long, two written in blue ink, one in pink – explaining the reasons behind her decision.

The letter read: “… I can no longer live in a society where I am not normal or accepted by the majority of this world. I didn’t decide one day that I wanted to be ridiculed and pointed at for simply being me and attracted to women. Who would want that for themselves? Nobody. I’m dying to tell someone that it is a never-ending battle.”

Moorhead said: “She was embarrassed, and she did not want to be judged. She hated being judged. She felt like if she was telling her innermost feelings she would be judged. It's sad to watch. She hadn't even been out a year and now she's dead.

“On the outside she was really strong and confident. Samantha, the other twin, she is more quiet and reserved. You'd have never thought it with Chloe. It shows how painful it must be day in and day out to have to put up with that crap, especially at school.

“Every time someone said something it chipped away at her soul and put a dent in her arm as well. She gave up putting up with it.”

The evidence of Chloe’s feelings started showing six months after she told her family she was gay, when her mother noticed she was self-harming. Immediately she was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) but only saw a doctor twice before she died.

Moorhead feels as though, although positive about the NHS, the service in Dumfries failed her daughter.

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She said: “She was seen twice in six months – once was the night when it came out about what she had been doing [self-harming], and then they went to the school once. I really do not think that’s enough for a child who is self-harming. I can only do so much at home, I can only talk to her. But professionals need to step in and help too. They failed my daughter.

“The number of people who have contacted me after Chloe died telling me they are cutting themselves and things, it is so scary. I wasn’t happy in December with how CAHMS was going. I phoned my GP and explained everything that had happened and that she was still self-harming.

“My doctor said to me they would make another referral for CAHMS, and told me not to let Chloe out of my sight. He told me not to give her money, not to let her go out. How is that practical with a 15-year-old? I never heard another thing from the GP, or CAHMS, until Chloe was dead.”

Moorhead explained that although Chloe’s family and main group of friends supported her, comments in the street or an off-the cuff remark in school would be what hurt her most.

She said: “She had a lot of friends who were gay themselves or who had gay parents, and she had a lot of straight friends. It doesn't stop it when she's walking through town on her dinner time and people saying 'oh she's a dyke'.

“These are the kinds of words which really, really hurt. Even if someone is acting although they are not bothered, it’s when they get home and are sitting listening to their music and cutting themselves. They need to learn this is all interlinked – people cutting themselves, going out hanging themselves. It's bullying, but unfortunately what you're getting bullied for is being yourself.

“It's shocking with Chloe as she was so confident and she came out, I couldn't have been any prouder of her coming out at that age. She was so secure with it at the time. This is why I think it's essential this issue is brought into schools, and made a part of the lessons in class. It can’t be an option, it needs to be part of lessons. You could easily bring it in as part of the PSE class for example. It could have saved her life.”

Since Chloe’s death, Moorhead has been proactive in Dumfries – organising charity nights and LGBTI-friendly events in an attempt to challenge the stigma gay and transgender people face. She said she is determined to tackle discrimination and is now fundraising to hold a Pride parade in Dumfries next year.

She said: “I’m just trying to keep busy with the charity, help others. My message is yes, there is hate out there, but I want people who are gay, lesbian, transsexual, to see that not everyone is a bigot or has a negative attitude. There is support out there. We never will abolish hate, but I want them to see that there are people who support them. We’re here.”

A spokesperson for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said: “We cannot comment on the young person’s circumstances.

We are in the process of undertaking a review of Chloe’s suicide, following local and national policy; all incidents of suicides where there has been involvement of mental health services are subject to case review, with a view to learning.

Families are given the opportunity to contribute to the review, and be made aware of the outcome. The service would welcome contact from Chloe’s parent at any time.”

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Jordan Daly, co-founder of the Time For Inclusive Education (TIE) Campaign, said Chloe’s death is one too many and is demanding urgent action from the Government to stop more people from self-harming or taking their own lives.

The campaign is calling for education specifically about LGBTI issues to be taught in schools, to reduce homophobic bullying.

He said: "Eight years ago, I came close to a suicide attempt. It would not have taken much to push me over the edge. There are many aspects to Chloe Orr’s experience that mirror mine – I, too, found myself desperately trying to navigate my way through a labyrinth of self-discovery. I lived under a shadow of self-hatred and I repeatedly lost my way. The more I felt suffocated within myself, the more a permanent solution felt like the only way that I would find peace.

It’s never easy to fully articulate what that period was like, yet I can still feel it. I’ve been left with scars. But I’m breathing and my heart beats – I’m still here. I survived myself – but Chloe didn’t, and the truth is that there are too many young people who have induced their own ending long before it was due. Why? Because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

That we are in the midst of a social epidemic is not a rhetorical metaphor – it’s a reality. LGBTI young people are self-harming, they are killing themselves, they are suffering from mental health problems and, so far, there have been no real steps taken to rectify this.

With TIE, we have been campaigning for an LGBTI inclusive education system because we believe that if we can tell young people from an early age that it’s perfectly natural to be LGBTI, then we can avoid the issues that so many face later in life.

Kelly Moorhead believes that if her daughter was supported at school, then she may still be here. The question that we have to ask ourselves is simple – how many more young people have to die before we buckle-up and tackle these issues? Because this article should never have had to be printed and Chloe should still be here. Our government have been quick to support our campaign, but now it’s time for action and not just words."