This article discusses suicide and self-harm in a way that could be distressing to some readers.
A photographer has spoken out about homophobia, transphobia, toxic masculinity and misogyny within elite boys' schools, citing his own experience while attending St Kevin's College in Melbourne.
James Robinson, who graduated from the high school in 2013, took to Instagram in the wake of fellow former student of the school AFL player Jordan De Goey's recent arrest in New York over assault allegations.
Robinson said on Instagram that he broke into his old school's grounds and set his school blazer alight as an act of protest against the "patriarchal culture" he said he observed during his teen years there.
"I broke into the school yesterday to protest. Something snapped in me this time," he wrote on the social media platform.
"The patriarchal culture I saw inside the school gates burst out and made its way to New York, my new home for the last five years," he continued, referencing the assault allegations.
Robinson said he saw students circulating revenge porn against girls from "sister schools", as well as "the objectifying of female teachers and the transphobic bullying of a teacher who transitioned."
"I saw a system designed to let young boys think they can do anything, assault anyone, and get away with it," he wrote.
After being "abusively outed" as being homosexual at the school, Robinson said he received no support, and felt suicidal at the age of 15. He said he emailed an ex-principal in 2019 to explain the "the dark spiral of self-hate and gay shame" he felt after attending the school, and his "struggle" grappling with it in his 20s.
"I explained how systemic homophobia and racism bled into curriculum, /teaching/ me to hate myself," he wrote, saying he reached out offering advice to the school.
Other photos included in his Instagram post included one of him kissing his partner while wearing the school blazer before it was burnt, as well as screenshots of news coverage about toxic masculinity within elite boys' schools.
"These photos are dedicated to current students and victims of St Kevin’s, and schools like it, who feel like their identity is slowly being chipped away by a hyper-masculine culture. I see you. I was you!" wrote Robinson.
"This protest takes my healing full circle. I burn my blazer not in anger, but in hope for regeneration. I kiss my partner not in spite, but to bring love back to the only place that ever taught me shame."
In an interview with the ABC on Thursday morning, St Kevin's College's principal Deborah Baker said she planned to meet Robinson and it was an opportunity for her and the school community to learn more.
"I think James can teach us and help us as other students can, there are some wonderful opportunities for students to bring forth their stories," she said.
St Kevin's College is not the only school that has been accused of harbouring a culture rampant with toxic masculinity, bullying and homophobia.
Following Robinson's post, former MasterChef contestant Connor Curran said he felt "inspired" to also speak up about his "traumatic" experience of being bullied on a daily basis back while he attended a private co-ed high school in Melbourne.
"The fact that I was openly verbally harassed daily to the point of deep depressions and being suicidal is not a new tale, it's eerily the norm for a lot of queer people from my generation," he wrote on Instagram.
Curran claimed many straight male students "got away" with bullying without repercussions, and he didn't feel that he received support for the abuse he faced.
"I'm not singling out my school, this is to every single school," he added, explaining educational institutions need to "be better" and "create safe spaces" for all students.
"It's 2021 and I'm absolutely over hearing what my peers went through," said Curran.
And he's right. This has gone on for too long and it must stop. School is for learning, and not just maths and geography, but for lessons in integrity and respect so we can all go out in the world and feel safe.