As teachers, we observe and celebrate difference in our school communities.
We acknowledge that students and families come from different countries, cultures and ethnic groups. We proudly and publicly celebrate multiculturalism through events such as ‘International Day’, Harmony Day and festivals such as the Chinese New Year.
This public celebration of diversity is important. It gives some students the opportunity to share an important part of their lives outside school, the chance to explain parts of their identity that other students might not understand, and it gives all students the chance to learn something new about difference and how important it is to celebrate diversity.
Multiculturalism usually refers to the broad range of ethnicities and religious beliefs represented in Australia. It represents the notion that we are one Australia with a wide range of customs and practices — but is it enough? What about cultures that are separate from ethnicity and religion. Should we recognise that there are alternate cultures that are not based on ethnic or religious difference? What happens to students who want to share their unique cultural practices that do not relate to race or religion? Is our understanding of multiculturalism diverse enough?
Next time you are organising your school’s Harmony Day, check to see if you have students who might like to share a cultural practice that does not reflect an ethnicity or religious practice.
Jenny Moes is a member of the LGBTIQ Restricted Committee