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Government accused of failing LGBTI students
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Brisbane have accused the organisers of the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence (NDAABV) of failing to include and support gay and lesbian students in their anti-bullying messages and efforts.
According to PFLAG, the ‘Bullying No Way’ website being used to promote the event on March 15, failed to provide any “information or guidelines to prevent homophobic bullying in schools,” despite a senior Queensland government official stating that LGBTI student bullying would be included.
The NDAABV is coordinated by the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE), which only recently met with representatives from PFLAG to discuss the results from a university study that found instances of homophobic bullying and abuse were most prevalent in Queensland.
PFLAG met with the state schooling operations and strategy executive director Sharon Mullins in late February to share the study’s results and to discuss measures and guidelines that could be introduced into the DETE to help prevent bullying.
Mullins was apparently very surprised to hear of the prevalence of homophobic bullying in Queensland schools, especially when it was revealed that the study’s results implicated teachers in contributing to abuse and, in some cases, condoning the bullying. In some instances, both teachers and students were involved in the bullying of a LGBTI student.
During this meeting, Mullins told PFLAG that the DETE would include anti-homophobic bullying measures in the NDAABV.
“Ms Mullins advised that DETE would add guidelines on preventing homophobic bullying to the national ‘Bullying No Way’ website as well as the DETE website. Unfortunately this has not occurred in time for the NDAABV,” PFLAG said in a statement.
PFLAG expressed dismay that the DETE had failed to mention of homophobic bullying and prevention guidelines.
“[The] DETE is coordinating the NDAABV… on behalf of all education jurisdictions in Australia. This is astonishing as Queensland does not provide guidelines, information or training to schools and teachers to prevent homophobic bullying of students.”
A spokesperson confirmed that the DETE had met with representatives from PFLAG and stated it advised them they would respond to PFLAG’s concerns in two months. They also said that the DETE had raised the issue of homophobic bullying with the Safe and Supportive School Communities (SSSC) Working Group and that they follow guidelines set down by the SSSC.
“When the SSSC meet next [May 2013] they will discuss the inclusion of resources related to homophobic bullying for the National Day of Action Against Bullying,” a spokesperson told the Star Observer.
“The department does not tolerate bullying in any form in any Queensland state school.”
Presently there are no official guidelines or anti-homophobic bullying-specific policy in place by the DETE, whilst most other states already have had guidelines in place for some time.