Sign the petition to keep Safe Schools in operation

Waine Donovan
Country Organiser

Federation is encouraging all members of the school community to support the Safe Schools program by signing the petition formulated by the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby acknowledging that gender-diverse students and students from diverse families face particular challenges throughout their education.

It is very important that the NSW government commits to maintaining the Safe Schools program in NSW schools and provide funding to ensure that the program can continue in NSW schools beyond June 30, 2017, when current federal funding is due to expire.

Last month, Liberal MP Damien Tudehope (Member for Epping) lodged a petition in the NSW parliament urging the state government to scrap the Safe Schools program that targets bullying of LGBTIQ students, teachers and their families. This is set to be debated in parliament on or after September 22.

In response to that anti-Safe Schools petition, a number of petitions have been written in support of the program, both online and in hard copy.

The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby’s counter-petition in support of Safe Schools calls on the NSW government to:

  • acknowledge that gender-diverse students and students from diverse families could face particular challenges throughout their education
  • commit to maintaining the Safe Schools program in NSW schools
  • provide any funding required that will ensure the program can continue in NSW schools beyond 30 June 2017, when current federal funding is due to expire.

In 2009, Federation’s Gender Sexuality and Identity Policy called on the Department of Education to develop and distribute anti-homophobia/biphobia/transphobia resources to all workplaces.

To date, no resources have been developed

Federation called on the Department to assist members to challenge such phobic attitudes and other discriminatory behaviour by developing and delivering training and development for staff on issues related to people of diverse sexuality and gender in education.

To date, the Department has not developed any such resources for schools, which leaves principals and teachers without the support and resources they need to adequately address issues relating to biased bullying and harassment based on gender identity, sexuality and sex. The federal government has provided funding until June 30, 2017 for the Victorian-based Safe Schools model to be implemented around the country to address the reported increase in homophobic and transphobic behaviours in schools.

Research shows that bullying and discrimination against young people who are LGBTIQ or questioning can result in reduced participation at school, reduced wellbeing and poor health outcomes. In extreme circumstances it can lead to self-harm and suicide.

With such dire consequences for students in teachers’ care, it is of utmost importance that teachers are provided with tools and strategies to address this wellbeing issue.

However, the Department has not provided adequate resources or explicit policy on this matter and conservative MPs have sought to have the Safe Schools program reduced or removed from schools.

Click here to sign the petition to Save Safe Schools.