MELBOURNE Jewish school Bialik College has become the first Australian K-12 school to sign up as an official supporter of marriage equality.

An ongoing Australian Marriage Equality’s campaign currently has over 800 supporters including businesses, organisations, and local councils.

As a member of the Safe Schools Coalition, Bialik College — based in Hawthorn East in Melbourne’s east — has been working to ensure students are learning in a safe and inclusive environment.

Former Bialik student and convenor of Aleph Melbourne, Michael Barnett, said an outward show of support such as this would have made a huge difference when he was at school.

“I was bullied constantly because I was different, and I had no validation that feeling same-sex attracted was normal,” he told the Star Observer.

“I tried to stop myself from participating in creative activities because people would think I was gay if I did that, so I stifled my potential at school.

“I believe that by Bialik being the first school they’ve taken a big step and it will help other schools follow in their footsteps.”

Barnett added that while the support increased pressure on the government to make marriage equality a reality, the message it sent to students was just as important.

“It’s one of Melbourne’s biggest private schools, and it’s sending the message that marriage equality is not something to support on a whim, it should be matter of fact,” he said.

“It’s not a matter of debate, because the welfare of students is at the forefront.”

Bialik principal Jeremy Stowe-Lindner said the school’s decision to support marriage equality was a celebratory one.

“Bialik College is proud to join Monash University, Swinburne, and over 800 other organisations in confirming out support for marriage equality in Australia,” he said.

“The rainbow spectrum of our community, and I use the term ‘rainbow’ deliberately, is something that we should celebrate.

“The idea of inclusion of those whose lifestyles are different to what some may see as mainstream, and who contribute positively to the community without impinging on the freedom of others, is a fundamental tenet of modern liberal Jewish values.”

Stowe-Lindner also believes marriage equality shouldn’t be up for debate.

“I would like to express my personal view as a principal of a cross-communal pluralist Jewish school that the inclusion of members of the community in our institutions, including marriage, should not be a matter of debate but simply a matter of fact,” he said.

Other organisations that have supported marriage equality so far include Airbnb, Commonwealth Bank, Qantas and Vodafone.

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