A SYDNEY council has declared its support for the Safe Schools program and will write to the Federal Government requesting that it re-instate the Safe Schools program in its original form and to the State Government requesting that they fund any shortfall so the Safe Schools can be rolled out to all NSW schools.

Last week, Marrickville Council in the Sydney’s inner-west – which has one of the highest percentages of LGBTI people of any local council in Australia –  voted to sign a Safe Schools pledge.

 Safe Schools is an anti-bullying program designed to create inclusive schools for LGBTI students. It recently came under attack from conservative Federal Liberal backbenchers and the government confirmed it would not be receiving funding beyond 2017.

“We have been proud to support LGBTIQ rights over many years,” Marrickville Council Mayor Sam Iskandar said.

Council voted to authorise the Mayor or General Manager to sign the Safe Schools pledge on behalf of Council, which reads:

“We believe that schools should provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students, so that they can learn, grow, and reach their full potential – free from bullying and discrimination.

“We pledge to stand up against homophobia and transphobia whenever we see or hear it. We are proud to support Safe Schools Coalition Australia and its work to create positive change for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, school staff and families.”

Council will write to local schools notifying them of its support of the Safe Schools program and will promote it through the council’s website and buildings used by local students and parents, including its libraries.

Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said Marrickville Council had a history of standing with LGBTI families and young people against bullying and bigotry.

“Ten years ago Council was defending its child care programs – which openly welcome same sex parents and diverse families – against attacks from the Daily Telegraph,” she said.

“A number of local schools are supporters of the Safe Schools program and we encourage other schools to get involved.

“Councillors agreed that it was important that Marrickville Council adds its voice in support of this important program, as a way to show support for our LGBTIQ young people, and for the schools that support gender diversity.”

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