THE chair of theParliamentary Friendship Group for LGBTI Australians has urged Australian students, teachers, parents and the general public to help foster a school environment that is more inclusive for LGBTI teenagers.

In a speech presenting in Federal Parliament last week, Leichhardt federal Coalition MP Warren Entsch highlighted a campaign called The New Norm and described the devastating impact of discrimination on the mental health of young LGBTI people.

“Eighty-two per cent of LGBTI students feel as though they are not being supported in their school, and 42 per cent feel as though their school is actively homophobic,” he said.

“Also, with only 12 per cent of schools around Australia teaching their students that homophobia is wrong, students are at serious risk of being bullied or bullying themselves.

“The New Norm aims to highlight that sexual preference and gender identity do not define an individual. They are simply one of many aspects of them.”

Entsch added that the campaign, which was established in Western Australia, was working closely with the Safe Schools Coalition – a federal government-funded program which supports gender, intersex and sexual diversity in Australian schools.

“This is the first national coalition of schools bringing together school staff, students and families to create a safer and more inclusive learning environment,” Entsch said.

“The Safe Schools Coalition is now working with our Parliamentary Friendship Group for LGBTI Australians to get MPs and senators to encourage schools in their region to sign up for this program.”

He said he hoped to help spread the message that young LGBTI Australians need acceptance, understanding and support.

“Homophobia and transphobia are absolutely unacceptable in our schools and certainly unacceptable in our society,” Entsch said.

For details, visit www.thenewnorm.org

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