LGBTI advocate says school chaplains can be supportive
Tasmanian gay rights activist Rodney Croome has come forward in an article on the ABC’s Religion and Ethics website to suggest school chaplains can play a crucial role in creating safer and more supportive environments for LGBTI young people.
Croome, who is a member of the Tasmanian Education Department’s LGBTI Working Group, suggested school chaplains, given the right training, were especially crucial in communities where LGBTI people filt ostracized or disadvantaged.
“Research shows young LGBTI people too often experience discrimination, bullying and exclusion, particularly if they are from faith backgrounds.
“With the right training, chaplains are perfectly placed to reconnect vulnerable LGBTI young people to friends, family and faith. Rather than seeing school chaplains as some kind of threat, the LGBTI community should be working with them to ensure they provide the highest quality service to young LGBTI people.”
Croome went on to cite recent training undertaken by school chaplains in Launceston and Burnie last week as an example of how to constructively engage with chaplains. The training was conducted by Relationships Australia’s Tasmanian LGBTI suicide prevention project officer, Sharon Jones, in conjunction with the Scripture Union Tasmania which runs Tasmania’s chaplaincy program.
Jones considered the training a resounding success.
“The training was a great success with chaplains enthusiastic to learn about LGBTI issues. I’m confident they will take what they learnt into the work place and look forward to doing more training with chaplains soon.”
Croome was hopeful the training would stand as a benchmark for chaplains across the nation.
“For the sake of LGBTI young people, I urge LGBTI community representatives and school chaplains to follow Tasmania’s lead and build bridges rather than put up barriers,” said Croome.
Image:Chaplians undertaking training in Launceston. From left to right: Bernice Heys, Jen Cole, Crystal Dobson, Jared Stocks, Riika Kuronen, Sharon Jones (Relationships Australia), Peter Swift (Scripture Union), Joseph Robertson, Matthew Burns