THE NSW Teachers Federation has urged the NSW Government to commit to further LGBTI support services and diversity training resources within the state’s schools, after the Growing Up Queer study that was published last month highlighted growing levels of homophobia and transphobia across schools.

Conducted by the University of Western Sydney, the Young and Well CRC and Twenty10, the study showed that out of the 1000 LGBTI students and young adults surveyed, over 42 per cent had thought about suicide or self-harm, 16 per cent had actually attempted suicide, while 33 per cent had actually committed acts of self-harm.

These results were specifically attributed to the widespread presence of homophobic and transphobic harassment and violence within Australian society.

In a statement to the Star Observer, Mel Smith from the NSW Teachers’ Federation Gay and Lesbian Special Interest Group stated that Growing Up Queer highlighted problems within the state’s education system, which she believed the NSW Government needed to address urgently.

“The NSWTF has called on the Department of Education and Communities to update policies and advice to workplaces that address issues related to people of diverse sexuality and gender and to provide explicit direction for primary, high and central schools on their responsibility to address homophobia, biphobia and transphobia through whole school programs at all levels of schooling,” she said.

Smith also stated that the NSW Teachers Federation has provided support to both students, teachers and schools over recent years via seminars, teaching resources and other support facilities, after the Education Department’s current policies, such as Proud Schools, were found to be inadequate by both schools and previous studies alike.

“Given the high levels of homophobia reported in research such as Writing Themselves In 3 and Growing Up Queer, it seems that the current practices are not enough and the (Education Department) needs to do more to support schools explicating regarding LGBTI issues,” she said.

According to Young and Well CRC, such support facilities are  essentially non-existent for marginalised LGBTI students within schools in regional and remote NSW.

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