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Youth worker condemned for homophobic comment on Facebook

Youth worker condemned for homophobic comment on Facebook

LAST UPDATED // Wednesday, 06 August 2014 10:24

Gay rights advocates have called for training and stricter guidelines for youth workers and chaplains after a Tasmanian youth worker and chaplain at Hobart College posted comments on Facebook saying homosexuality is abnormal.

Troy Williams, a youth worker with Kingborough Council south of Hobart and a chaplain at Hobart College, posted a quote on Facebook that said "homosexuality is not normal", "in nature procreation is the single relentless rule", and "no-one is born gay".

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, called the post dangerous and inappropriate.

"What the post says to young gay people is that someone they should be able to trust, and who should support them, thinks their sexuality is abnormal, unnatural and a choice."

"These myths aren't just wrong, they're dangerous to the wellbeing of young same-sex attracted people and completely inappropriate coming from someone who works with youth."

Croome went further suggesting all youth workers must have professional development training in LGBT issues including spending time with LGBTI young people to get a greater understanding of what their lives are like.

"There must also be strict guidelines for anyone who works with young people to ensure that same-sex attracted young people are supported and affirmed and that damaging myths and stereotypes are challenged, not perpetuated."

Both the Education Department and the Scriptures Union has described Williams post as inappropriate and said the youth worker had breached the code of conduct.

In a statement released yesterday, the Education Department said the department has referred the matter to Mr Williams's employer, the Scripture Union, which has described the post as "inappropriate".

"Chaplaincy is about supporting people whatever their issues are, and it's just unfortunate that someone's acted outside of that," said Peter Swift, the Scripture Union's chaplaincy development manager.

Croome has welcomed the comments condemning Williams actions.  

"I am pleased the State Government, the Kingborough Council and the Scripture Union agree that professionals who work with young people need to understand and support same-sex attracted youth, not condemn them.

"After news of Mr Williams' post broke I was heartened to received a personal phone call from the Education Minister, Jeremy Rockliff, assuring me he is committed to removing homophobic prejudice from schools and that he is seeking an explanation from the Scripture Union about how it will ensure this doesn't happen again."

Williams has since apologised for his comments and removed the post from his Facebook page.

He has been ordered to attend a special education forum on LGBTI issues in Hobart next week that will also be attended by other youth workers and school chaplains. The forum will be run by Australia's leading educator in LGBTI issues, Daniel Witthaus, as part of a week-long series of forums across the state.


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