New school anti-homophobia program ‘at risk’

New school anti-homophobia program ‘at risk’

A new anti-homophobia program announced may not make it to the classroom, the NSW Greens have warned.

The program, Proud Schools, announced as a trial in 12 NSW high school by Education Minister Verity Firth today, is worth $250,000.

The program will include teacher training and workshops with students and parents. A committee comprising government and non-government agencies will monitor the program and report back to Ms Firth’s office.

Greens MP and spokesperson for sexuality and gender issues Cate Faehrmann congratulated the NSW Government on the trial, but warned “a few lone moral crusaders at Macquarie Street” could scuttle the program before it gets off the ground.

“This is excellent news – after caving in to the fear mongering of far-right moral crusaders in 2005, the Government should now be congratulated for acting on homophobia in schools,” Faehrmann said.

“The latest research shows homophobic bullying in schools is rampant, and affects the entire community, not just those who are gay, lesbian or gender diverse.

“Unfortunately, the same far-right fringe interests who have blocked action on this issue for so long, are still very influential at Macquarie Street.

“The government must secure multi-party support before the extreme conservatives of NSW politics sabotage the program.

“There is a very real risk that this desperately needed program won’t make it into all schools simply because of the last-century thinking of a few lone moral crusaders at Macquarie Street.”

Research released last year showed verbal and physical abuse against same-sex attracted (SSA) youth was on the increase.

The Writing Themselves In 3 — the third national report of sexuality, health and well being of SSA and gender questioning young people — showed a marked jump in homophobic violence in Australian schools, with strong links to higher levels of self-harm and suicide in abused youth.

La Trobe university lead researcher Dr Lynne Hillier said since the last report in 2005, the most recent survey of 3134 young people showed a significant jump in homophobic abuse in schools.

“[Homophobic] violence isn’t going down in schools … really there’s evidence of young people reporting more homophobic violence,” Dr Hillier told the Star Observer.

“What we learned is … young people in schools they deemed homophobic were more likely to have self-harmed and they were more likely to have attempted suicide.

“So the idea of a school being supportive and young people feeling safe and in a supportive school … is incredibly important in all of this.”

Being a teenager can be hard enough, but it can be particularly difficult if a young person is same-sex attracted.

Firth said the aim of the program was “to build on the culture of understanding and respect in NSW schools”.

“Ignorance and intolerance can lead to bullying and abuse, with many same-sex attracted young people feeling a sense of shame, fear and isolation,” she said.

“We don’t tolerate bullying or abuse in our public schools for any reason. That’s why the Proud Schools program aims to replace ignorance with understanding, intolerance with acceptance, and shame with pride.

“Proud Schools recognises that for this change to take place whole school communities will need to work together, with parents and teachers playing a key role in identifying and addressing homophobic attitudes.”

ACON president Mark Orr welcomed the announcement.

“We welcome this pilot program as an important initiative not only tackling homophobia and transphobia in schools, but promoting the mental health and well-being of same-sex attracted or gender questioning young people, providing safe and inclusive learning environments and helping young people value and celebrate diversity within society,” he said.

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14 responses to “New school anti-homophobia program ‘at risk’”

  1. Julia Gillard has long history of promoting homophobia in schools.

    It was as the Federal Education Minister that Julia Gillard rewarded a school with an increase in funding, after Xavier High School in Albury in a newsletter published a message from a former student, calling on the mass murder of homosexuals.

    Gillard was made aware of this, it was even reported in the GBLT press and major Australian media outlets, but she did nothing but increase funding to the Catholic diocese in the area. She never sent a letter saying this was not acceptable. I wrote to her and received a letter of how she values independent schools in Australia. Huh? What was that? Exactly.

    In Albury there was an unsolved murder of a gay guy after the newsletter went out, and I heard of another who killed himself. In a town like Albury the homophobic newsletter reached many more people then students with the local newspaper, The Bordermail referring to the letter and author, an “ex-gay” talking about how he writes to business leaders asking them not to employ homosexuals etc.

    The contrast between some of the good work the State Governments are doing, and what the Federal Government has done in the areas of homophobia, could not be more different.

    Gillard and Federal Labor have let down students when it comes to ending homophobia.

    I would like to see a response from Gillard to such letters that tell students we should be wiped off the face of the earth.

    I have to question the relationship between the Church and State. Here we have a school that gets our money, yet excludes us and vilifies us good people. The Federal Government is taking public resources away from the public, and giving it to a religious school that is not open to all. This is a policy of great cruelty, especially when the school publishes material calling for our mass murder, how else do you wipe us from the face of the Earth? We have actually been forced to pay for this cruelty.

    It is not just many people in the GLBTI community that advocate for Civil Rights. The rest of the community is seeking answers also. Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals’ freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression. How does giving our taxes to schools that exclude us from employment help? How does giving our taxes to Nursing homes that take people not just on disability, but on not being GLBTI help our community? Public money should go not go to religious groups to run government services when they exclude a large section of the population simply because they are Same-Sex attracted. Gillard has failed the Civil Rights test, Federal Labor has failed.

    How many years will it be before Federal Labor ends all areas of discrimination? 100 years? I think more. They presently advocate against our Civil Rights. They do not understand what Civil Rights are. They do not understand that a child in a school has a right to be free of hate and persecution from the school.

  2. Lucien one thing is for sure, clever people would not follow you to Hell with your vile belief that parts of the community should be hated, and that some Australians are not deserving of Civil Rights.

  3. Dr Sacha Blumen

    2012 in the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Why would an intelligent person such as yourself tie themselves to another ship that is about to suffer a devastating sinking, the NSW Labour party? What suit will Mr O’Farrell wear to government house to recieve his commission as Premier, that is the question. If you grab a life vest now you could still escape!!!

  4. Giving public money to religous groups that exclude part of the community from government services is a promotion of a policy of hate. Supporting the abuse of the Civil Rights of Australians is disgusting. Lucien fails to understand or comprehend the impact of such human rights abuses. Do what you want in your church, but it is an act of hate to exclude people from government funded services outside the church. It is pure Evil to do this to good and decent people.

  5. I welcome the initiative to tackle homophobia in schools announced by Verity Firth. It’s good to see the NSW Government strengthening the ability of schools to support their students.

    I strongly support all moves to reduce homophobia and transphobia within schools. All students should be safe and feel safe to be themselves.

    Dr Sacha Blumen
    Labor candidate for Sydney

  6. David

    What part of my reasoning on church-state separation is not clear to you. Gay people are concerned about religious groups having overt influence on government policy. Therefore it is monumentally hypocritical to expect goverment to interfere in the affairs of religious groups. I say again IT’S A TWO WAY STREET this concept of secularism and church state separation. Furthermore please clarify how exactly I am supporting hate? Did I advocate public flogging of gay people or any such absurd thing, NO I DID NOT. I’m a live and let live, to each their own person. To instantly brand someone a hate monger just because they dare to have a divergence of opinion from yours suggests that you are in fact an extremist zealot, and it seems that you are always quick to condemn other people you consider to be that!!!

  7. When our taxes are used to deny Civil Rights that is government funded hate. Lucien your are supporting a system of hate. Not all Christians support this oppression and countries are moving away from this.

  8. Dave

    Secularism and church-state separation are a two way street. Whilst religion should not have overt influence on government likewise the government should not be able to dictate to religious groups how they run their affairs. Therefore if a Christian, Muslim or Jewish school has a policy not to employ openly gay people they should not be forced to by the goverment. I’m guessing that you will disagree with that, but then again if you really support the separation of church & state you should agree with it. You wouldn’t want to leave yourself open to allegations of self contradiction and hypocrisy.

  9. Hooray! It’s taken too long…but it is soooo needed.

    Sadly, this will not survive under O’Farrell and his Attorney General Greg Smith, a sworn enemy of any gay and lesbian initiative.

  10. I smell an election – do you?
    $250,000 isn’t enough for this ailing government to buy my vote …

  11. “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be a Catholic) how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote, where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

    I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish, where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source, where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all. “

    by John F. Kennedy
    September 12, 1960

    Gillard is not leading by example, she is one who advocated against many of our Civil Rights, she is the one who has policies that lead to great suffering within our community, she is the one that denies us basic human rights such as the right to work or access health care in many government funded services. Gillard is the one that does not believe in a fair go.

    This good organisation of hardworking Australians could well give lessons to Julia Gillard not to hate victims of the floods, and seek to deny the sick and elderly accommodation in Nursing homes simply because they are Same-Sex attracted. Let it be known to all good people everywhere that Federal Labor gives exemptions to religious groups, that run businesses such as nursing homes, to deny us access to these essential services that are paid for with our taxes. This is a policy of Labor that causes great suffering. The separation of Church and State is not known to Labor, and more and more the lie in bed with those that seek our destruction and deny us freedoms, those that would have us put in jail for marrying our love.

    But this is the same Prime Minister that also denies us jobs in education and health when it is funded with our taxes and run by religious groups. Federal Labor is guilty of letting religious groups decide what is right and wrong for us good people. Gillard openly advocates against our Civil Rights. Perhaps she could learn from a great Catholic, John F Kennedy. He stood up to the hate in some Churches and did not let them decide what is right for the people, but let the people decide.

    It is hard to teach kids not to be homophobic while Federal Labor rallies against our rights. There is a cost to the economy of laws that discriminate, of laws born out of hate and intolerance. Children taking their own lives, adults denied jobs, elderly denied Nursing homes, are all part of the cost associated with hate. When a disaster like floods strike, there are victims our government does not care about.

    Let it be said that Gillard shames Australians. We are the country of a fair go. The progressive country, yet Gillard and Federal Labor want to take us backwards. Not forwards, not moving forwards, just backwards.