A landmark conference into GLBTI sexuality education programs in Australian schools has revealed an alarming lack of anti-homophobia programs and the continued abuse and isolation of queer students.

Many students across Victoria still suffer from homophobic abuse, leading many to contemplate suicide.

Researchers, education policymakers and teachers who attended Schooling and Sexualities’ Ten Years On conference in Melbourne last weekend heard that while some schools have embraced sexual health education classes which incorporate GLBTI discussion, many continue to resist it.

Many presenters felt the problem was an absence of a national, compulsory program and the unwillingness of principals, politicians and parents to allow GLBTI issues to be raised formally in schools.

Parents are a main obstacle, as well as politicians and organisations from the Christian right who often block programs, conference co-coordinator Lisa Hunter, a lecturer at Queensland’s Griffith University, said.

The moment you put the word -˜sex’ in a school program you are shooting yourself in the foot. Even states with mandatory curriculum, it’s not necessarily carried out as it’s still on a school-by-school basis, she told Bnews.

Ms Hunter said it was easier to introduce the issue of sexuality within a course based on social justice and equity, which also included the topics of race, ethnicity, Aboriginality and disability.

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