“I don’t support Safe Schools because it’s not really about bullying, it’s about normalising homosexuality.”
“Look, I’m really sorry about that kid in Queensland, but that’s the price we have to pay to keep all the normal kids safe.”
Like many in the LGBTI community, I have been churning with rage, horror and sadness at the wholly preventable, wholly avoidable suicide of a young schoolboy. Rage redoubled when I see the kind of comments quoted above.
If all the kids in all Australian schools were taught the truth, were taught to understand, respect, support and embrace their LGBTI brothers and sisters, as the Safe Schools program quite properly attempts to do, some of us would not suffer fear and misery so great, we would rather die.
Every LGBTI child that suffers, and their grieving family, not just this week but every week, every month, every year, lies squarely on the conscience of everyone who opposes targeted anti-bullying programs to specifically address the bullying of LGBTI kids. Every single one of you.
The Australian Family Association is dead wrong. We do need targeted programs in every single school in Australia, public or private. Yesterday. Not generic anti-bullying programs that ignore sexuality.
Because LGBTI kids are uniquely vulnerable. Far more vulnerable than any other minority.
Jewish kids have Jewish mates to back them up, Jewish parents to stand up for them, a whole Jewish community fighting their corner. Somali kids, Greek kids, Afghan kids, Italian kids, Muslim kids, Hindu kids: all have peers, friends, family and community that hug them tight, soothe their fears, fight on their side, tell them there’s nothing wrong with them. They have somewhere safe, where they belong.
All too often, LGBTI kids have none of this.
- They don’t have an openly identified group of peers to back them up.
- They don’t have the openly expressed support of their teachers.
- They don’t have the unconditional love of their parents.
- They don’t have a tribe of their own that always has their back.
They’re often scared to tell their parents they’re LGBTI in case they are forced into conversion therapy, or thrown out onto the streets. Yes, some parents are so devoid of love, such unfit parents, they will discard a child who doesn’t fit their expectations.
We tell our LGBTI kids “It gets better”, but when? Their need is now.
- They see bullying church leaders, ‘religious’ lobbyists, politicians, columnists and media personalities, telling lies, saying they are perverted, diseased, dangerous.
- That they must never be allowed to marry the person they love, or raise children.
- That the other children with whom they mix with every day must never ever be taught the truth: that they’re as normal and natural and wonderful as they are. In case the straight kids get “confused.”
- They are not taught about the massive contribution that LGBTI people have made to society down the ages.
- They are taught to look down on LGBTI people making a valuable contribution to society today.
- They are not taught how to express their developing sexuality in a loving context.
Safe Schools may not be perfect, but it’s a great start. And there are other programs around that specifically address anti-LGBTI bullying. That teach schools how to be LGBTI supporting and inclusive.
They must be placed in every school, public or private, across the nation, as a matter of extreme urgency.
To those who complain that this is ‘normalising’ homosexuality, the answer is yes. It is. Because homosexuality IS normal, natural and unremarkable.
To you who use your bully pulpits, the press and parliament to further your careers at the cost of innocent childrens lives, I say this. If you truly want to confront perverts who are a danger to children, start by looking in a mirror. And that includes you, Prime Minister.
Kids Helpline – for ages 5-25, 24/7 phone counselling on 1800 55 1800 or WebChat between 8am and midnight at kidshelpline.com.au. Kids Helpline counsellors are experts at talking to young people.
Lifeline – all ages, for support in a personal crisis, 24/7 phone counselling on 13 11 14 or web chat between 7pm and 4am at lifeline.org.au
PFLAG has information for parents of LGBTI kids
Minus18 has resources for LGBTI under 18