Six young students from Westbourne Grammar in Melbourne’s west have fought for compulsory LGBTQIA+ education in primary schools.
Their Compulsory LGBTQIA+ Education for Primary School Students Bill 2021 was passed in the YMCA Victorian Youth Parliament last week.
YMCA’s Victorian Youth Parliament is a program consisting of 120 young people who come together to debate bills that they have written themselves. The bills that get passed in the Parliament are then handed onto the Minister for Youth for consideration.
This is the second LGBTQI+ bill that was passed in the Youth Parliament. A Bill by six Castlemaine students for gender-neutral toilets in Ann public buildings in the state was passed 19-13.
The draft says that the “Bill seeks to reduce the stigmas surrounding queer identities in order to create healthier relationships and subsequently improve the mental health of LGBTQIA+ youth.
Misinformation Breed Bigotry
Westbourne Grammar team member Tee Goldie said they were prompted to write the Bill after noticing a lack of LGBTQIA+ education in their own school.
“There was just a lack of common understanding and it led to a significant amount of discrimination. In this day and age, it should be a lot better,” Goldie told Star Observer.
According to Goldie education was key to preventing discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community. “It’s still just a very hushed topic, it just allows for so much stigma and so much misinformation that leads to discrimination,” they said, adding, “It should be something that’s talked about so much more.”
Team member Ashley Griffiths agreed that misinformation “breeds bigotry”.
“[With] different topics that do have bigotry surrounding them and misinformation, that creates a whole lot of pain,” Griffiths said. “Formal education is a great way to tackle the problem.”
Logistics Could Be A Problem
Psychologist and co-founder of Rainbows in Schools Megan Grigg said teaching LGBTQI+ education in primary schools is “suicide prevention” and “mental health intervention”.
“For me it’s a pretty straight line between suicide prevention and greater inclusion in schools,” Grigg said. “It’s incredibly important.”
Grigg said although the bill was “awesome”, some of the finer details may not work and needed amendments.
“[The Westbourne team] were talking about setting up an advisory group that included representatives from principals, safe schools, the Education Department, parents, community members and so on… that determined what needed to be taught,” she said.
“The logistics of that, knowing how touchy this issue is and how many different people there would be involved in that, I think that would be a little bit problematic,” said Grigg.
Nevertheless, Griffiths said he felt confident about the Bill’s prospects before it had even passed.
“[This Bill is] a simple idea but it would go a long way to actually combatting a lot of the problems that we have today,” Griffiths said. “We’ve got this in the bag.”