The Issue of Homophobia in Schools – and What We Can Do as Parents
Following on from similar programs which have already been rolled out in Victoria and WA, this week the NSW Teacher Federation is providing resources for teachers to help reducehomophobia, transphobia and heterosexism in schools. Included in these resources will be a gender, sexuality and identity kit, which aims to promote and educate our children, and to create a safer environment for same-sex attracted and gender-diverse young people.
As La Trobe University PhD student Tiffany Jones’ research recently highlighted, explicit anti-homophobic bullying policies could save gay students’ lives.
La Trobe research in 2010 uncovered some alarming statistics;
- 61% of young people reported verbal abuse because of homophobia
- 18% of young people reported physical abuse because of homophobia
- 80% of all the abuse happened at school
- 37% described their school as homophobic or very homophobic
- 2 times the number of young people who suffered verbal abuse had attempted suicide, compared to those who reported no abuse
- 4.5 times the number of young people who had been physically assaulted had attempted suicide, compared to those who reported no abuse
“With kids getting abused and self-harming because of homophobia, a strong clear message that this should not be happening must be sent through policy in every sector and school,” Jones said.
Jones found that in schools with no anti-homophobia policy, just over 47 percent of same-sex attracted and gender-questioning (SSAGQ) students had thought about suicide, while 22.1 percent had attempted it.
In schools with a specific anti-homophobia policy, the number dropped to 30 percent of SSAGQ students having thought about suicide, and 12.7 percent attempting it.
Mel Smith, a Teachers Federation officer said:
“Homophobia is an increasing issue in our school communities as evidenced by Australianresearch. Therefore it is imperative that we provide our teachers in our public schools, with
tools to help combat the issue. NSW Teachers Federation will be launching a kit that willsupport teachers in schools and other workplaces to address GLBTI issues.
“The Safe Schools Coalition Victoria is an example of a program aimed at tacklinghomophobia, transphobia and heterosexism within school communities. Schools andindividuals can join the coalition to show their commitment to creating safe environmentswhere every student can learn, every teacher can teach and every family can belong. ”
What can parents do?
Homophobia is not inherited, it is a learned belief much like racism, sexism etc.
Children often take their cues on how to behave from parents, friends and family.
Remember that words have power. Be mindful of derisive or negative language. Homophobic jokes may seen like harmless fun but they assist in the perpetuation of negative thoughts and feelings and false information.
Be prepared to share age appropriate information with your child. Teach tolerance and respect for other people.
For more fantastic ideas you can check out this video. Stand Out is the work of Australian students who are making a change in their schools, with their info on what you can do to challenge homophobia in yours.