Teachers involved in homophobic bullying
BRISBANE: Some teachers are contributing to homophobic bullying in Queensland schools, says advocacy group PFLAG.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays Brisbane met with a representative from the state’s Education Department to discuss ways in which training on homophobic bullying for teachers can be improved.
PFLAG’s Janet Berry said stories from students about teacher participation in sexuality based bullying were presented to Sharon Mullins, executive director of State Schooling Operations and Strategy with the Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE).
One student wrote: “I told teachers the vice-principal and even the principal herself, but I was given no support. I told specifics about who had said and done what, hoping for some kind of recognition from the staff that this was wrong and undeserved. I received comments such as, ‘They don’t understand’, ‘I don’t know what you want me to do about it’, or ‘People in power will always get away with doing the wrong thing, it’s best you learnt that now’.”
Another student reported that the bullying that impacted most on them was from teachers, including comments from a teacher that “homosexuality was a sin and I was going to burn in hell”.
Berry told Queensland Pride that Mullins seemed surprised to hear that teachers were involved in the bullying.
Mullins told the PFLAG representatives that DETE will add guidelines on preventing homophobic bullying to the ‘Learning and Welfare’ section of their website and to the ‘Bullying No Way’ website, a national initiative.
PFLAG will receive a progress report from Mullins on these initiatives in two months.
In Brisbane today, Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett said he believed the safe-schools framework provided enough protection for students but it was up to state governments to ensure it was in place.
“I very much want to see state education ministers nationwide recognise that this is a real and present issue for young people in our schools,” Garrett told reporters today.
“Where we see victimisation or bullying on the basis of sexual choice or gender it is completely unacceptable.”
Berry also revealed PFLAG was looking at the concept of a Queensland schools alliance to combat sexuality-based discrimination and bullying, similar to the Victorian ‘Safe Schools Coalition’ established in 2010.
“We do plan to set up a working group and invite other concerned organisations in Queensland to join us to progress this,” she said.
“We would hope to progress to the stage where schools, teachers, students and parents in those schools are supported and given guidelines and information on how to manage these issues.”
Berry said she was not aware of any specific guidelines produced by DETE on homophobic bullying and its prevention.
Berry said specific programs against homophobic bullying were needed because school was a time when children were trying to work out their sexuality.
“They haven’t come to terms with themselves yet and they need to be free to do that without bullying,” Berry said.
“They may have discovered they’re not going to get help from family and friends, so the atmosphere at school is extremely important to them.”
- Tags: Blaze, Bullying, Education, Homophobia, Janet Berry, LGBTI Youth, MCV, Peter Garrett, PFLAG, Queensland Pride, School, Sharon Mullins, SX
About the Author
Andrew Shaw worked in Melbourne's media scene for 12 years as a news journalist, arts writer and editor, before making a sea change to Brisbane to become editor of Queensland Pride in 2012. He was editor of Melbourne Community Voice for six years, worked in the Media Unit at Monash University and was assistant editor/editor of statewide magazines for secondary school students and teachers respectively.