GREENS STAND BY SAFE SCHOOLS

The Greens have slammed a state Opposition election proposal to scrap the Safe Schools anti-bullying program in South Australian schools and have called on Nick Xenophon and Jay Weatherill to condemn the Liberal plan.

Greens MLC, Tammy Franks, stated: “The Greens stand by Safe Schools. Just as we stood with the LGBTI community against the national bullying exercise of a proposed plebiscite-come-postal-survey.

“The last thing we need when it comes to talking bullying is more bystanders. Jay Weatherill and Nick Xenophon need to stand up right now on this issue. Both of them need to be loud and proud. 

The Greens have slammed a state Opposition election proposal to scrap the Safe Schools anti-bullying program in South Australian schools and have called on Nick Xenophon and Jay Weatherill to condemn the Liberal plan.

Greens MLC, Tammy Franks, stated: “The Greens stand by Safe Schools. Just as we stood with the LGBTI community against the national bullying exercise of a proposed plebiscite-come-postal-survey.

“The last thing we need when it comes to talking bullying is more bystanders. Jay Weatherill and Nick Xenophon need to stand up right now on this issue. Both of them need to be loud and proud. 

“We have a dedicated program to address bullying based specifically on sexuality and gender because those are the issues that are used to bully our children in schools and the community.

“Young people who are same-sex attracted and/or gender questioning face bullying, discrimination and stigma, and consequently are far more likely to attempt or commit suicide, to be at risk of homeless and to suffer unnecessary mental illnesses than their peers. Programs like Safe Schools literally save lives.

“This direct attack on the Safe Schools program today shows that the SA election is really now in a race to the bottom. South Australia need leadership from SA-Best and Labor right now to curb that descent. Standing on the sidelines is not an option. Political bystanders won’t beat this bullying.  

“Young people who are victims of transphobic or homophobic abuse or bullying have every right to feel safe and included when at school. The research shows that at the moment they aren’t safe.

“Schools themselves can determine how to use the resources provided. We haven’t heard similar calls from the Liberals today to cut or mainstream programs that deal directly with racism or sexism but if we let one group be marginalised and mainstreamed how long until we see that happen as well?

 “The Liberals are dog whistling here. Pandering to widespread misinformation about Safe Schools in order to shore up conservative votes. They should know better. Politics should be better than this. I call on all our elected representatives to take a stand against bullying in all its forms, including homophobia and transphobia and to address that bullying for what it is,” she concluded.

Background:

Around 30 per cent of Australia's gay teenagers will attempt suicide. In fact, LGBTI young people aged 16 to 27 are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers*. Bullying at school is thought to be a contributing factor.

AIDS Council of South Australia (May 2010) report: 'Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Intersex Health Policy in SA:

  • LGBT people are four times more likely to attempt suicide than the rest of the community;
  • 80% of LGBTI individuals had experienced public insults;
  • 70% had experienced verbal abuse;
  • 20% had experienced physical threats; and
  • 13% had experienced physical assault.

A La Trobe study called 'Writing Young People In', a survey of young same-sex attracted people in Victoria found that of those experiencing abuse school was found to be the most dangerous place for these young people. (With home not always safe either).

Their stories include:

Tori who was pushed down the stairs and into a wall at her high school.

Tyron who had another boy threaten to kill him and stopped going out at all in case that person was there as he knew that this person would bash him up for no reason at all and both he and his brother would push him around.

Yolanda who was bullied all the way through school, mostly for being different, but her sexuality was the biggest factor in why she was different. She was spat on, her legs were kicked from behind as she attempted to walk away, she was thrown against walls and she was threatened.

Hugh, at his boarding school, was subjected to other boys pretending to have sex with him. He had his bed urinated on, and he had a broomstick inserted into his anus.

* https://lgbtihealth.org.au/statistics/

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