PREPARATIONS are underway for the rollout of the Safe Schools Coalition across Queensland after securing support of the recently-elected Palaszczuk Labor government.

With the anti-homophobic bullying initiative already set up in states like Victoria and NSW, Queensland schools will finally be able to sign up to the project with government support.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Ipswich branch committee member Janet Berry said that every young LGBTI person deserves access to an inclusive learning environment free from discrimination and abuse.

“Students should not be denied the opportunities of education because the school environment fails in its duty of care to young people who are same-sex attracted, intersex or gender diverse,” she said.

“The action group Safe Queensland Schools for LGBTIQ students welcomes the planned implementation of Safe Schools Coalition Australia to Queensland.

“This exciting new program will bring in a new era of equity and acceptance for all students, families, teachers and support staff within our school communities.”

PFLAG led the charge in pushing for governmental recognition of the anti-bullying programme but hit roadblocks under the former Newman Liberal-National Party government, who did not endorse the program and preferred a system that would see schools govern themselves.

New education minister Kate Jones wanted to ensure potentially-vulnerable LGBTI students who experience higher rates of bullying were provided with a supportive school.

“Every child, no matter where they live, has the opportunity to learn in a safe and supporting environment so they can reach their full potential,” Jones told the Star Observer.

“That’s why we made an election commitment to deliver the Safe Schools Program that will promote equality and tolerance in Queensland schools.

“We are currently implementing this election promise and look forward to the service provider being appointed so schools can start to benefit from the program.”

A survey in 2010 found that Queensland LGBTI students faced statistically higher rates of homophobic bullying compared to other states and territories.

“This was attributed to the lack of a state policy providing teachers with the information and support they need to develop inclusive educational systems in their schools,” Berry said.

“Safe Schools Coalition Australia is an Australian government funded program dedicated to making schools safer and more inclusive for same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse young people, their teachers and families.

“Schools, with their principal’s support, will be able to sign up to the program and access the free professional training for school staff, educational literature and resources for staff and students, consultation and advice.”

Queensland schools can sign up to the Safe Schools Coalition here ahead of an official launch soon.

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