A new bilingual human rights course for language schools will not teach students about discrimination against GLBTI people or that their rights to non-discrimination are protected by law.

Being Me: Knowing You, developed in partnership between the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and Community Languages Australia, is an English-Arabic language course teaching children aged 11 to 15 about discrimination in Australia.

Although discrimination based on ethnicity and religion are the course’s primary themes, discrimination on the grounds of age, sex and disability are all also dealt with repeatedly.

In comparison, discrimination based on sexuality rates a one word mention in the teachers’ handbook and is totally absent from the resource leader handbook, parent guide, student work book and student homebook.

AHRC Race Commissioner Graham Innes was on leave but told Sydney Star Observer in a statement, “Being Me: Knowing You … couldn’t cover every human rights issue.

“It was a project that was developed under the Community Partnerships for Human Rights Program and primarily had an ethno-religious focus. In writing the resource, the Commission was very mindful there are other resources produced by the Commission that deal with issues relating to discrimination on the basis of sexuality.”

NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) policy co-ordinator Senthorun Raj said it was vital human rights materials explicitly deal with discrimination against sexual minorities.

“All educational materials on human rights should expressly, and not tangentially, address sexuality issues,” he said.

“This is essential to promote an educational environment that is respectful of diverse sexual minorities and one which does not tolerate homophobia.”

“It is problematic to make qualitative judgements about whether one ethnic or migrant population group is more homophobic than another,” Raj said.

“We should, rather, be focussed on acknowledging that homophobia exists in different forms across all communities, and work to foster a society that is sensitive to cultural differences and respectful of people from diverse sexual orientations.”

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