A group of celebrities have launched a campaign lobbying the federal government to introduce a mandatory national anti-bullying program across Australian schools with an LGBTI focus.
The prominent Australians backing the campaign include singers, songwriters, actors, radio hosts, comedians, authors, newsreaders and YouTube stars. Their call for “tolerance” but not “acceptance” has been met with hostility from parts of the LGBTI community.
Others joining the campaign include Missy Higgins, Paul Mac, Joel Creasey, Guy Pearce and many other high-profile Australians. They are encouraging people to sign their letter that will be given to the Prime Minister and Education Minister.
“My son Troye Sivan told us he was gay at 14,” said Laurelle Mellet.
“It made me nervous—I’d heard horrific stories of homophobic bullying and kids being suicidal at school.
“What’s worse is our education system won’t fight it—Malcolm Turnbull hasn’t renewed Safe Schools funding. To exclude anti-LGBTI bullying programs from schools is beyond cruel. I’d like to think all parents would fight for a system that makes their child feel safe, not worthless.”
Sivan said, “In schools across Australia, thousands of kids like me are bullied on a daily basis because of their sexuality. They’re also bullied based on their religion, race, gender, faith, disability, skin conditions, social standing or political persuasions.
“That’s why I’m getting behind a new push in the form of a letter to the Australian Prime Minister to roll out a national anti-bullying, anti-violence program in schools across Australia where students are taught to respect and tolerate those who are like me.”
The program’s focus on mere “tolerance” has been met with criticism from the community. LGBTI people and friends have taken to social media to voice their opposition to the proposed program.
There's nothing wrong w being #LGBTI – so we don't actually need tolerance. Respect & acceptance for our authentic selves isn't asking a lot
— Dr Chris Neff (@christopherneff) May 1, 2017
“Does ‘tolerance’ but not ‘acceptance’ apply to kids with different skin colours? Or just my trans kid?” tweeted Jo Hirst, author of The Gender Fairy.
— Jo Hirst (@thegenderfairy1) May 1, 2017
The group is urging Prime Minister Turnbull to allocate federal government funding to a program such as the one outlined in their letter.
“What Australia doesn’t need is a program that is tied up in politics and controversy,” their letter says. “If we don’t act now, future suicides, self-harm, murders, and domestic violence will continue unabated.”