50 LGBTI and ally organisations have joined forces to call on the government to protect trans and gender diverse students and teachers in Australian schools.
The joint statement challenges Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his cabinet to amend outdated anti-discrimination laws to ensure all LGBTI people are treated with fairness and equality.
“We know that trans and gender diverse students achieve their best academic and mental health outcomes when they are supported by both their families and their school environment,” said author and advocate Jo Hirst.
“Every student should have the right to be safe and accepted in their school community.
“Our trans and gender diverse students just want to be able to attend school with their friends like every other student without fear and discrimination.”
The Human Rights Law Centre’s Anna Brown said that the postal survey shows that Australians want LGBTI Australians to be treated fairly.
“All children should be accepted for who they are at school.
“Every person should be able to do their job without having to hide who they are. Every school should be inclusive of all types of families. We should all be able to access publicly available services free from discrimination.
“The very genesis of this inquiry was the deeply flawed idea that equality for LGBTIQ people somehow poses a threat to religious freedom.
“We reject this utterly, and remain concerned that conservative religious forces within the Coalition will be extracting their ‘price’ for marriage equality.
“There should be no price paid for equality,” Brown said.
“I know rainbow families who really want their children to receive an education in a religious setting but worry that these laws make that hard or even impossible,” said Rainbow Families’ Felicity Marlowe.
“My message to politicians today is let’s not lose the momentum from the past week – act now to make schools welcome of all LGBTQ children, young people, staff and our rainbow families.”
NSW MP Alex Greenwich has been working with The Equality Campaign and Rainbow Families to collect stories from LGBTI people who had experienced discrimination at religious schools to present to MPs in Canberra.
More than 800 people have written to The Equality Campaign sharing their support for removing these outdated provisions.
“I have witnessed gay students being attacked, I have watched people vandalise gay students’ lockers, I have seen someone smash a gay teacher’s car windows,” wrote a gay student currently in high school.
“We do not need to face more discrimination then we already do.”
One teacher wrote about fearing for their livelihood should they lose their job as a result of their sexuality.
“I teach at a conservative Catholic Primary school. I am constantly afraid that someone will find out and that I will lose my job.
“I am the main income earner and my employment is incredibly important. I worry that I will lose my job.
“I worry that my employer won’t give me a good reference if she finds out. This could affect my future employment opportunities.
“I feel like a criminal and I have done nothing wrong.”
Read the full joint statement here.