Sunday, 20 April 2008

Churchie: Brisbane LGBTyouth service supports the rights of students

“Open Doors strongly advocates that excluding gay and bisexual students from equal participation within school is harmful to their health and education”.


It has been reported that Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie) has banned its young men from bringing other young men as their partners to a school function.


Open Doors Youth Service provides support and early intervention services to vulnerable young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, their families, schools and other community services. “We service principally in the areas of family breakdown, at-risk young people, homelessness, addiction, contact with the criminal justice system, mental health and suicide prevention, in a variety of cultural and social contexts. We address homelessness, linking young people with employment and education, crisis support, family mediation, advocacy and education”, said Chairperson Russel Flynn today.


Research shows that approximately 5-10% of males are homosexual or bisexual.


Open Doors was disappointed to be informed that Churchie would not allow its students to take a same-sex partner to their formal. Only when our educational system is willing to embrace its non-heterosexual students will these students be able to achieve their academic and personal potential. “We think this edict does much to reinforce to the young people that who they are is inherently unacceptable; and that can be very harmful” Mr Flynn said. “Open Doors would hope that all schools would be more enlightened than this”.


Open Doors have worked with a number of the school’s young men, including several of Churchie’s current students. They are polite, well educated and totally respectful young men who will obviously grow up to be leaders in our community. These young men are a credit to Anglican Church Grammar School. Given the percentage of non-heterosexual people within the population, Anglican Church Grammar School will have approximately 85-170 gay and bisexual students currently attending – with many probably hiding their sexuality due to homophobia in their lives. We think this is a very strong message to them to keep doing just that.


According to La Trobe University’s Writing Themselves In Again study, within Australia:

80% of young gay and bisexual males report experiencing homophobic abuse within school – school was a more homophobic context than any other in their lives.
Owing to homophobia, gay and bisexual young people inject drugs at twice the rate of their heterosexual counterparts.
Owing to homophobia, young gay men are almost 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers
The greater the rate of homophobic rejection young gay men face, the greater the chance they will engage in self-harming behaviours such as cutting – 35% of gay youth engage in self harm
One in five young gay men have been assaulted on the basis of their sexuality.
Many young gay and bisexual men drop out of high school because of homophobia.


According to Open Doors’ latest annual client survey, Coming Out About Coming In, 94% of young gay people who experience emotional violence engage in self harm.


Writing Themselves In Again also reports:


Social connectedness and inclusion are vital pre-requisites for good mental health and a sense of wellbeing. It is therefore disappointing that these [gay and bisexual] young people are being given such strong messages that they are unacceptable and that they do not belong in the broader community. These messages create feelings of alienation from the community that are continuously reinforced. We know that resilience in young people is dependant on connectedness and trust in other people, two things that are destroyed when young people are treated as outsiders.


Open Doors hopes that all schools would nurture, educate and empower their students - enable them to uphold their legal rights, maintain their physical and emotional health, and complete their studies, hetero-sexual and non-heterosexual. To self-actualise and have pride in themselves and their community. We believe that such a decision to exlude and marginalise young people on the basis of their identity does nothing but severe harm to this objective.


Open Doors also hopes that school staff are willing to act upon the principle that the wellbeing of student is more important than keeping the more conservative members of our society appeased.


For more information please contact Lisa Thorpy, Open Doors Coordinator, 0409 621 572.


Open Doors Youth Service, PO Box 194, Fortitude Valley 4005, QLD.



www.opendoors.net.au for more information and reports.

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