Let Kids Be Kids & Let Schools Be Inclusive

Janet Berry, Chairperson Queensland Action Group for LGBTIQ+ Students (also on Facebook) writes:

A new Prime Minister cannot be expected to know everything immediately. But common sense should tell him not to open his mouth on The Project without doing a little homework and acquiring a little learning from those who do know.

Evie tried to tell him on The Project (Thursday 6 September) what it is like being a transgender kid in school, based on her personal experience. But Scott Morrison did not appear to hear what Evie said.

Instead the Prime Minister declared: “I don’t want to see teachers taking the role of parents” referring presumably to the role of teachers in recognising students with gender dysphoria and ensuring they receive the care they need.

He clearly has not read recent Australian research findings that young children with gender dysphoria experience marginalisation and discrimination at school.  And other research telling us that teachers may not feel confident or supported by their employer in responding in an appropriate manner to issues such as gender and sexuality identity, same-sex parenting and homophobic and transphobic bullying.

They need information and training to help them.

The Prime Minister’s response sidestepped the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers which state that teachers should know and understand students and employ inclusive strategies that engage and support all students.

Is he even aware that many State, Independent and Catholic education authorities now have inclusive policies that respectdiversity; policies that acknowledge and value LGBTIQ+ students and recognise the importance of their wellbeing. He can access these policies on the internet.

By proclaiming ‘let kids be kids’ Scott Morrison unwittingly echoed the wish of all parents who love their LGBTIQ+ children: Let our child be valued and respected for the child they are, without discrimination, without bullying and without the mental health consequences of that abuse.

Does he realise that 11% of teachers and other school employees may be LGBTIQ+. Within inclusive and supportive schools, teachers who are themselves of diverse sexuality, transgender or intersex can be valuable role models for LGBTIQ+ students, with the experience to provide support, information and encouragement.

Does he know that some school age young people leave home because their parents cannot accept and even express homophobia or transphobia towards their own child who is gender or sexuality diverse. Fortunately, many organisationsacross Australia help these young people find a place to live and support them in completing their education.

Scott Morrison, with his Christian blinkers firmly in place, is failing LGBTIQ+ children, especially those who are scared to go to school for fear they will be bullied simply because of the way they were born.

In contrast, good Australian teachers work alongside good parents with the aim that every child feels safe at school and able to achieve their best.

Janet Berry
Chairperson Queensland Action Group for LGBTIQ+ Students also on Facebook 

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About the author

Janet is the instigator, driver and chairperson of the Queensland Action Group for LGBTIQ+ students, a volunteer group with no funding or financial structure. The vision is to ensure that LGBTIQ+ students and allies are welcome, safe and supported in reaching their full potential in all education settings in Queensland.