Safe Schools helps youths feel ‘safe and accepted’: Greens

THE NSW Greens today re-confirmed their support for the Safe Schools Coalition, describing it as an "essential program that supports young people and aims to end homophobic and transphobic discrimination and bullying at school".

Member for Ballina Tamara Smith said it was disappointing to see some parliamentarians criticising the work being done by the coalition.

Local Safe School Coalition members include Brunswick Heads Public School, Evans River Community School, Kyogle High School, Lismore High School, Lismore Public School, Mullumbimby High School and Richmond River High School, Lismore.

"Safe Schools' materials are designed to help young people to feel safe and accepted, regardless of their sexuality, their gender, or the type of family they come from," Ms Smith said.

"It's important that the diversity of our communities is reflected in the materials available to teachers, to help them ensure that all students feel supported at school.

"If moral panic prevents vulnerable students from having access to information and support services that will help them feel accepted for who they are, that would be a tragedy.

The Greens' comments come after Labor MP Greg Donnelly criticised the Safe Schools Coalition Australia for promoting the classroom use of a book, The Gender Fairy, to tell the story of two transgender children.

NSW Greens' spokeswoman on sexuality and gender, Jenny Leong, said there was a concern that young people who were victims of transphobic or homophobic abuse or bullying could attempt self-harm.

"We know that rates of suicide and depression are much higher among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) young people," she said.

"It's high time that those attempting to whip up fear about the resources prepared and promoted by the Safe Schools Coalition thought long and hard about the real impact they are having on our children and young people."

"Safe Schools provides support and inclusion for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, school staff and families.

"It is an important tool for the prevention of bullying and discrimination.

"It is a positive scheme that should continue to receive government support."

But Mr Donnelly argued that parents were being "deliberately left in the dark by schools and those promoting the program".

"The story (in the book) is about two transgender children who apparently are not 'fluid' and make the choice to socially transition," he said.

"A key narrative of the story is that it is up to the children to decide where they are on the gender spectrum.

"Now it may well also be the case that mums and dads across the state are pleased that their primary school aged children are being enlightened about the finer points of gender fluidity by the Gender Fairy.

"However, for the vast majority of parents, they will never know."

Schools can opt into the Safe Schools Coalition, which has $8 million in federal funding behind it.



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