Supporting Safe Schools on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

On 17 May 2017 we celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) – an important day for same-sex- attracted, intersex and gender diverse youth.

ALHR’s LGBTI Subcommittee Co-Chairs Nicholas Stewart and Kathryn Cramp have written to members of the NSW Parliament urging them to come out publicly in support of IDAHOT and make clear that they do not tolerate homophobia or transphobia in schools.

Over recent years Australia has made progress in making our country safer for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, with strengthened anti-discrimination protections in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 Cth, the removal of the ‘gay panic’ defence from the Criminal Code 1899 (QLD) and the passing of bills in South Australia allowing same-sex couples to adopt a child and access surrogacy.

Yet still, LGBTIQ youth remain some of our most vulnerable to abuse, harassment and violence. LGBTIQ students represent a significant minority population: 10% of students are same-sex attracted, 4% of students are trans and gender diverse and 1.7% of students are intersex.

Bullying and discrimination can impact on young people’s mental health, self-esteem and sense of safety. This can in turn affect attendance, concentration and academic achievement. The Beyond Blue report From Blues to Rainbows on mental health and wellbeing of Australian trans and gender diverse young people found that almost two thirds of the young people had experienced verbal abuse in response to their gender presentation or non-conformity, and one fifth had experienced physical abuse. Over 90% of young people who experienced physical abuse had thought about suicide in response to their experience.

By signing (on 22 August 1990) and ratifying (on 17 December 1990) the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child5 (the Convention), Australia has committed to taking all appropriate measures to ensure children are protected against all forms of discrimination, irrespective of their gender or sexuality and to ensure children have access to information aimed at the promotion of their physical and mental health.

Australia has also committed to protecting children from physical or mental abuse when they are in care and recognising the rights of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health through education. Homophobia and transphobia in Australia remain barriers to these human rights.

You can read the letters attached below.