Support LGBT+ young people in NSW schools
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Every student, in every school, deserves to be valued and treated with respect. Unfortunately for LGBT+ students, this isn't always the case.
LGBT+ young people face discrimination, rejection and harassment at every turn of their school lives, by their peers and teachers alike. The recent contentious debate surrounding same-sex marriage has only exacerbated this. They are more than twice as likely to self-harm than their non-LGBT+ peers and five times more likely to attempt suicide. So why isn't more being done?
Since the untimely and unnecessary repeal of the Safe School Program in NSW schools, little has been done by the NSW Government to provide for the needs of LGBT+ students. The wider anti-bullying reforms put forward as its replacement fall short.
Programs such as Safe Schools, or GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) in the US, are tantamount to providing an inclusive and safe environment for queer youth and have shown to have a beneficial effect in creating a more accepting and positive environment in schools. It is vital for immediate action to be taken, to change the culture of silence and prejudice around LGBT+ issues into one of acceptance and provide a affirming learning environment where queer young people can grow and be supported.
So what can the Youth Parliament of NSW do?
- Endorse teacher training programs which educate teaching and administrative staff about the experiences and needs of LGBT+ students and help to institute active school-based initiatives to create a more accepting and inclusive classroom environment
- Promote the introduction of formal anti-discrimination codes in schools, particularly those specifying the protection of LGBT+ students against discrimination, harassment and vilification
- Support provisions for the acceptance and support of gender-transitioning, transgender, or genderqueer students, particularly in single-gender schools, such as non-gendered dress codes and a third gender options on administrative forms
- Support a comprehensive introduction of the LGBT+ experience into the NSW curriculum, specifically in the K - 10 PDHPE Curriculum, to help open dialogue between students and foster a more healthy and tolerant culture
It is time for the Youth Parliament of NSW to step up and commit to actively supporting the safety, inclusion and respect of all young people in our schools, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
ALL students have the right to safety and respect. It's time for something to be done.
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