Students stand up to be out and proud

Students stand up to be out and proud

A new guide to help students combat homophobia in schools is now available in Victoria.

An initiative of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) and gay and lesbian support group Minus18, the information guide — Stand Out Against Homophobia in Schools — offers students advice on how to deal with homophobia in schools from the mouths of students who’ve experienced it.

SSCV coordinator Roz Ward told the Star Observer the 32-page resource is written by students for students and involves practical ways for students to create safe school environments for same-sex attracted and gender questioning young people.

“This is very much a realistic guide of things you can do if you’re a student in a school in Victoria, what the barriers might be and helpful hints and tips,” Ward said.

“At the moment there’s nothing like it really directed at students that’s based on real-life student experiences in Australian schools “Often students feel like they’re the first people to have ever done something, so [the guide is] the first step in creating a community of student activists in school who are challenging homophobia.”

Verbal and physical abuse against same-sex attracted young people is on the increase, according to 2010 La Trobe university research.

The Writing Themselves In 3 report showed that 61 percent of same-sex attracted or gender questioning young people in Australia experience verbal homophobic abuse, 18 percent physical homophobic abuse, and 26 percent other forms of homophobia. Up to 80 percent of this abuse occurred in schools.

Minus18 convenor Micah Scott told the Star Observer the new resource will help many students who feel isolated because of their sexuality or gender identity.

“This isn’t airy-fairy advice,” Scott said.

“It’s all good and well to say to a young person, ‘Don’t take bullying, stand up against homophobia’, but without practical ways to do it and without students’ stories and actual examples, that sort of advice becomes a bit meaningless.”

Scott said he also wants the guide to dispel the myth that homophobia isn’t a problem in schools, saying one of the young people interviewed for the guide, a student in Geelong, called on teachers to act after one boy was bullied after a photo of him with another boy appeared and was shown around the school.

“The boy was relentlessly bullied to the point he left the school because he couldn’t cope with the bullying,” Scott said.

“That was the trigger for the student we interviewed [for the Stand Up booklet] to go to the school vice principal and wellbeing coordinator and say we have a homophobia problem, what can we do to solve it?

“It’s unfortunate that it took such a significant event but sometimes that what it does take.” The Stand Out guide will be launched on Thursday, July 21.


Photo: Liam Wright

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7 responses to “Students stand up to be out and proud”

  1. To follow-up Angela’s post, this project is intersex inclusive, especially where the intersex person wants to identify with same-sex attarcted and gender diverse community.

    Many intersex people, perhaps the majority of them, are on a journey to be fully and inclusively part of the broader hetersexual community and would most likely not see this initiative as being aligned to their needs.

    Regardless, there are benefits for everyone in a school community and beyond when school environments are made safer for same-sex attracted and gender questioning young people.

  2. Wouldn’t it be terrific if this program was intersex-inclusive too? Intersex people are brutalized due to homophobia as well. Tragically, we are usually excluded from such programs.

  3. @ Campbell. OMG how awful for you. Glad you have made it this far after such a bleak experience at an institution that should make it’s highest principle the safety of all that attend. You are indeed correct. This is very important work. Take care. Peace.

  4. This is Great having had dealt with alot of homophobia while in a country school myself and having nothing there for support was really hard. But now that Victoria has this is just amazing. And bout time as well =) can’t wait to see this in all the Victorian schools

  5. I went to an all male private school in perth western australia. i was stabbed twice and bullied horrendously because i came out as openly bi-sexual. the school fulfiled all of its legal obligations and left it that leaving me feel abandoned alone and afraid. this kind of work is very important!

  6. As the photographer for this campaigns resource, we weren’t so much in the field to appeal to people like Newton-Brown, but instead help those who need and are willing to accept the information we’ve provided.

    We know that somewhere, someone will read the resource, with a smile on their face because they’ve realised it’s completely natural to feel the way they’re feeling; to be who they are.

  7. This is welcome news, as this program is doing ground breaking work. It is a shame the Victorian Attorney General did not do any anti-homophobic programs. No doubt he would not cut us out of the Equal Opportunity Act, demanding we can be sacked for existing if employed in thousands of government funded jobs.

    Prahran MP Clem Newton-Brown could also benefit from an undestanding of his actions.

    Robert Clarke also said ‘I believe homosexual practices form a destructive way of life, destructive to the individual, and destructive also to other individuals who are brought into that way of life.’

    ‘I suppose it is most demonstrable at a physical level; it is a physical fact that the human body is not designed for many homosexual practices and it is clear that physical problems follow from these practices.’

    ‘It is a foolish practice, it is destructive and it is harmful, and that is capable of scientific and medical measurement and assessment’

    He also called a homosexuality a disability, like spina bifida: we should just stop whining and learn to live with it.