WEB_Penny Sharpe_ STANDARD HEAD SHOTNSW Upper House MP Penny Sharpe has pushed back against efforts by conservative lobby groups to shut down an anti-homophobia initiative in the state’s high schools.

Sharpe presented a petition signed by almost 300 people to state Parliament urging the government to retain and expand the ‘Proud Schools’ anti-homophobia program, which is being trailed in 12 schools across the state.

Sharpe defended the program’s successes, calling it an “essential part of the progress” towards stamping out homophobia in schools.

“More young people are coming out while they are still at school, and all young people have the right to feel safe and secure,” Sharpe said.

Started by the former Labor government in 2011, the trial was continued by the O’Farrell government when it came into power later that year.

The program became the target of conservative interest group FamilyVoice Australia in January, who organised a lobbying campaign aimed at reversing the O’Farrell government’s support for the initiative.

NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli publicly refused to withdraw support for the trial in October, but the proposed expansion of the program will not be decided until the conclusion of a review later this year.

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