Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Wear It Purple Day 2012 on behalf of the GLRL.

On Friday, September 7, young people and their supporters across Australia will be wearing purple in a show of solidarity for LGBTIQ youth, and the GLRL is proud to be among them.

While community attitudes are shifting, young people who are sex, sexuality and/or gender diverse (SSGD) often continue to face discrimination and harassment in multiple settings – at school, in the home, in religious organisations and social settings.

Writing Themselves In 3 (2010), a national study released in 2010 from La Trobe University, found that 61 percent of young people reported verbal abuse because of homophobia and 18 percent reported physical abuse, with 80 percent of the abuse happening at school.

Given the formative nature of the school experience, it is crucial that schools are places where young people feel safe and secure.

Equally important are grassroots community efforts like Wear It Purple and the recently formed Community Brave Foundation.

Yet according to Writing Themselves In 3, 37 percent of young LGBTI people described their school as homophobic or very homophobic.

A compulsory part of the secondary curriculum, PDHPE, tends to contain little, if any, information relevant to SSGD young people. Indeed, 80 percent of these young people found sex education in school useless or fairly useless.

There have been some positive responses to these issues, however. Recently, both Victoria and NSW have introduced programs, the Safe Schools Coalition (2010) and Proud Schools (2011) programs respectively, to address the specific problem of homophobia in schools.

Equally important are grassroots community efforts like Wear It Purple and the recently formed Community Brave Foundation.

The GLRL is running three workshops for young people on anti-discrimination through our Commonwealth Attorney General Human Rights Education Grant.

The first – at Out West in Parramatta last Wednesday – was very successful.  The next, at Twenty10 in Newtown, is on this Saturday (8th September) at 1pm.  Contact us at [email protected] for more details.

We hope that you will join us in purple this Friday.  Our young people deserve all the support we can give.

Justin Koonin is the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor .

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