Working in child care you have probably heard some talk about what is going to be involved with the Safe Schools Program as it rolls out into primary and secondary schools. So why was it developed and what does it aim to do?
With so many young people suffering from mental health conditions as a result of bullying or their identity as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or intersex (LGBTQI) people, action to support young people as they navigate being a young person has become essential.
A national study on sexual health and well-being reported that 80% of LGBTQI students who face homophobic abuse (verbal and/or physical) stated that it happened in their school. Suicide attempt rates are also six times higher for same-sex attracted young people than their heterosexual peers.
How can we change this?
How can we ensure that young people understand the impact of their bullying and understand each other’s differences? How can LGBTQI young people feel more included, accepted and loved in both their school and their wider community?
Schools have a duty to protect their students. This is ensured through various anti-bullying programs, drug and alcohol awareness programs and mental health initiatives. With such alarming statistics emerging from studies about the LGBTQI community, and the effect of exclusion and bullying on their mental health on school grounds, the duty to protect and support LGBTQI students has never been more important to uphold. Especially as, according to the CEO of beyondblue, 10% of young people are “same-sex attracted or are experiencing gender identity issues”. That’s 10 students in every hundred, which means a significant portion of the school’s cohort.
The Safe Schools Program is simply another program designed to foster inclusivity. Gender identity is a mainstream topic of discussion on social media and wider news channels, platforms which young people are exposed to on a regular basis.
It is important that these topics are therefore discussed in schools in a respectful matter to ensure that young people are equipped with the knowledge and regard to foster inclusion and promote tolerance in their social groups, workplaces and the wider community.
Missed our other two blogs in the series? Check them out here!
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