Family Planning NSW is looking for 15 same-sex attracted people aged 18-24 to train as panel speakers for its Same Difference anti-homophobia program.
Same Difference is a free high-impact education program aimed at high school students, teachers and other professionals working with young people.

The program aims to raise awareness about same-sex attraction and sexual diversity and show how homophobia affects young people.

The program also helps educate teachers about non-discriminatory language and behaviours and how they can create safe and inclusive learning environments for all students.

Trainees will have their travel costs and lunch covered by Family Planning, with the course to be held in the organisation’s Ashfield centre.

Sydney Star Observer spoke to Matt Capell, a volunteer with Same Difference about the training and his experiences volunteering with the program.

“I got involved in the Same Difference program through a youth group that I attend in the Macarthur area called CQ,” Capell said.

“It was something I felt strongly about — fighting against homophobia in schools — and I wanted to be a part of that.

“My background challenges the stereotypes in that I played football when I was a kid, and was very sporty — I’m not the stereotype of a homosexual that most people have in their heads. I think that helps me get things across, as high-school-aged kids can have some very preconceived ideas of what gay people are supposed to be like — particularly in the western suburbs.”

Since being trained, Capell has spoken to Student Representative Council conferences, and to teachers and students, and said he found the experience rewarding.

“Coming from my area, even though I had positive experiences at school, I have friends who have been in much worse situations, and knowing that I’m helping out the future generation of same-sex attracted youth makes me feel great. I know I’m doing something to help other people.

“I get very positive responses from the students I speak with. When the workshop begins they can be quite immature, and they bring with them their own ideas about homosexuality. But after I speak, there’s a dramatic change. I can see how more mature they are about the issues, and after that they go through and discuss how they can make life better in the school for gay kids.”

info: Applications can be downloaded from www.fpahealth.org.au Closing date is May 21. Training is held over two Saturdays.

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