Fed up with homophobia in public and private high schools, Dr Darryl Gauld, principal of Macquarie Grammar School, convinced his board, staff and students to set a positive example of tolerance in education by marching in last weekend’s parade.

Sixty students and teachers marched to Go West in rainbow shirts as a statement for the next generation, but the fate of gay employees in schools also weighs heavily on Gauld.

We have a Dr G, me, [at Macquarie Grammar], Gauld said.

But it makes us angry when people say the Mardi Gras has lost its appeal when there is still violence in the streets and discrimination against gay teachers in our profession.

Gauld said he was inspired to push for a float this year by the ingrained homophobia depicted in Summer Heights High and his own experiences teaching at Chatswood High School and SCEGGS.

I have been refused positions, and so have other teachers at schools, particularly the religious ones, he said.

It disappoints us when religious schools take money in the form of the taxpayer dollar from the gay and lesbian community in one hand and in the other say, -˜Don’t think about applying for a job with us’.

Or, if you do sneak through, you cannot appear in the Mardi Gras parade.

By encouraging gay and lesbian families to act as hosts for international students, Macquarie Grammar School hopes to showcase Australia’s diverse society as part of its educational message.

Only a few years ago I was teaching at a public high school, Chatswood, and students went by my staff room saying -˜faggot’ and the like. I looked at the head of the department and asked, -˜What you are doing about that?’ and he didn’t do anything, Gauld said.

The problem is there’s no management, no one is willing to stick their neck out and do something.

Calling the problem widespread, Gauld wanted to know why more schools weren’t participating.

Our staff and students had a ball. We wanted to get the message out that we welcome all students and teachers from around the world regardless of whether they’re left-handed, Gauld said.

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