April 1, 2013

Before her suicide, Maine girl was bullied, family says

Relatives of Kitty McGuire hold a protest in front of her middle school to call attention to the issue.

BY MATT HONGOLTZ-HETLING Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Family and friends of Harley "Kitty" McGuire, a Mount View Junior High School student from Troy who committed suicide last week, assembled outside the school in Thorndike to address bullying issues on Monday, April 1, 2013. McGuire's brother Timothy McGuire, center, said he wants the school to admit there is a bullying problem and deal with the issue on behalf of his sister and others.

Staff photo by David Leaming

Kitty was targeted by fellow students because she was trying different ways to express herself, Timothy McGuire said.

"She was trying to figure out her sexuality," he said. "She was trying to figure out who she was."

For Kitty, part of that process involved dyeing her hair and wearing unusual earrings and unusual clothes, including some all-black outfits, he said.

At home, Timothy McGuire said, his sister put up a brave front.

"It was hard to get her to talk about it," he said.

"I think they should be treating it as a bullying issue," said Fred McGuire, who said he is Kitty's grandfather as well as her legal guardian, having raised her as his daughter. Fred McGuire said Timothy is his son.

Fred McGuire said he overheard Kitty talking angrily with her friends on the phone about being bullied.

Kitty said students at the school "were obnoxious and making slurs toward her," he said.

Fred McGuire said that it was part of an ongoing pattern that began when Kitty started being open about her sexual orientation.

He wanted to protect her, he said, but it was difficult to know what to do.

"She said, 'Don't call the guidance counselor. It just makes it worse,"' he said. He said Kitty went to the school's guidance counselor herself two or three times to try to have the issue addressed.

While the bullying was mostly in the form of name-calling and ostracism, on at least one occasion, he said, it turned physical.

"One of the boys kicked her in the leg," he said.

Just a couple of weeks before Kitty took her own life, Fred McGuire said, the bullying erupted into a confrontation between Kitty and two other children on the school bus.

"They were screaming at each other loudly on the bus," he said.

There are electronic records of some of the bullying, Fred McGuire said, but they were unavailable because the family gave Kitty's iPod to the police investigating her death.

Lt. Jason Trundy of the Waldo County Sheriff's Department said he could not confirm any details of the case because it is an ongoing investigation.

Memorial arrangements for Kitty are still being made, Timothy McGuire said.

Kitty was a sixth-grade student at Mount View Middle School in Thorndike, which is part of Regional School Unit 3. The district serves the communities of Brooks, Freedom, Knox, Jackson, Liberty, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Waldo.

This spring, Perry said, the school will host parent forums to talk about the situation.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:

mhhetling@centralmaine.com 

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