A La Trobe University PhD student will head to Rio de Janeiro next month to present findings on homophobia in schools at UNESCO’s first international consultation on homophobic bullying in educational institutions.

Tiffany Jones (pictured) will attend the conference thanks to financial assistance from JOY94.9 listeners.

In her thesis, Jones used 2010 Australian research which shows that the existence of anti-homophobia policies in schools can reduce rates of self-harm among same-sex attracted and gender questioning young people (SSAGQ).

“As young people who do declare a same-sex attracted or gender diverse identity began to come out earlier in life … homophobic abuse in schools has increased in response and this needs to be addressed on a global level,” Jones said.

Using the research, Jones found in schools with no anti-homophobia policy, just over 47 percent of SSAGQ students had thought about suicide, while 22.1 percent had attempted it.

In schools with a specific anti-homophobia policy, the number dropped to 30 percent of SSAGQ students having thought about suicide, and 12.7 percent attempting it.

Jones will address the UNESCO conference to discuss best practice policies to deal with homophobic bullying on an international scale.

“Resources like posters, library books and referral services as well as equity at events like school formals are all factors that contribute to a supportive and safer school setting,” she said.

“My research particularly highlights the importance of distinct policy documents that directly mention homophobia and GLBTIQ issues. “Educational institutions should not rely on general anti-bullying policies or broad inclusion statements. These are simply too vague to highlight and combat systemic homophobia.”

Earlier this month Jones pleaded for financial help in an interview on JOY94.9 to help her make the conference. Listeners contacted her to lend their support. UNESCO and La Trobe have also contributed to Jones’ travel costs.

“I have received a lot of support to attend this conference and managed to find funding for the entire trip,” she said.

“Being a PhD student, I can only do minimal paid work so the additional assistance has been greatly appreciated and shows that the community supports the need to tackle bullying in The conference runs December 6 – 9.

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