While last term saw many people participate in joyous Mardi Gras events it was also a challenging time for many LGBTIQ teachers and their allies. There were continued attacks on the national Safe Schools Coalition program and some personal attacks on individuals for their position on maintaining safe and supportive educational environments.
While the review into the Safe Schools Coalition program found the teaching resources to be educationally sound, age appropriate and aligned to the Australian curriculum, the federal government announced a number of changes to the program.
Of major concern is the government’s proposal for the requirement for parent bodies to agree to school participation in the program, and parental consent for student participation in programmed lessons. This is in direct contrast to current practice and NSW Departmental policy, and represents an unprecedented move to give parents the power of veto over teachers’ professional judgement and choice of curriculum materials.
Federation is an official supporter of the program and has made a number of public statements supporting Safe Schools and opposing the federal government’s announcements. Several articles on the issue can be found on Federation’s website:
In a letter to federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham, Victoria’s Education Minister James Merlino stated the Victorian government was committed to continuing support for the program and that it would continue with no alterations: “We stand behind our $1.04 million commitment to Safe Schools Coalition Victoria. Every government secondary school will become members by the end of 2018.”
Federation has encouraged NSW Premier Mike Baird and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli to adopt a similar stance, however, they have sided with the federal government.
Federation will continue to support both the Safe Schools program, and those teachers and schools who continue to address homophobia, transphobia and biphobia in educational settings. Any schools experiencing problems related to this issue should make contact with their Federation Organiser to seek advice and assistance.
For those experiencing difficulty and who are in need of some personal support, the Gay & Lesbian Counselling Service (GSCS) provides a number of services for people of all ages. Services include telephone support and webchat through QLife as well as adult social support groups.
Safe Schools Coalition
Answers to frequently asked questions: Can my school still sign up to the Safe Schools program? Can primary schools be part of the Safe Schools Coalition program? What type of parental involvement is needed to be a Safe School? What is happening with the government’s recommendations?
Course introduces the latest research and thinking around inclusive practice as well as strategies to challenge homophobia, transphobia and heteronormativity so you can make a real difference for your students and colleagues.
If you have feedback in relation to the newsletter or website, or information regarding LGBTIQ issues please contact Mel Smith at the NSW Teachers Federation at (02) 9217 2100 or via email@example.com.
If you, or a colleague, is experiencing homophobia, discrimination or harassment contact your local Organiser for advice, or alternatively you can call our Professional Support Team on 1300 654 369.
For a printable, pdf copy of the newsletter please click here.