Organisers of Australia’s first national conference on homophobia in schools hope to put the controversial issue on the national agenda.

Held in Melbourne, the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) and Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) will host the one-day National Safe Schools Symposium in October.

Experts from around the country will collaborate and share some of the best practices in tackling homophobia and transphobia in schools.

In 2010, the Writing Themselves In 3 report found 75 percent of LGBTI young people had reported experiencing some form of homophobic abuse.

Eighty percent of that abuse occurred at school.

FYA initiative leader Mandy Hudson told the Star Observer they took on the conference because of their work with SSCV.

“What we’re trying to do is bring together… other states and territories who are doing work around challenging homophobia and transphobia, to look at who’s doing what and how we can collaborate and get this on the national agenda,” Hudson said.

Students will also get to highlight the work they have done on the issue with their own stream of presentations.

“It’s not just teachers, leadership and governments who are doing amazing stuff, you’ve got young people doing amazing stuff too,” she said.

SSCV coordinator Roz Ward told the Star Observer she hoped the symposium raised important questions at a national level.

She said a national approach would be helpful in light of the new national curriculum and it could also prevent unnecessary duplication throughout the states and territories by sharing existing research, practices and resources.

“The other point is having very clear messages at a national level that homophobia is not tolerated in schools,” Ward said.

She said sexuality and gender diversity in schools needed to be supported at a local, state and federal levels of government.

Work towards creating harassment-free schools has already begun on a national scale, Hudson said.

The conference will be held on Saturday, October 20 at Angliss Conference Centre in Melbourne.

INFO: www.fya.org.au/safe-schools-symposium

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