How to support sexual diversity in schools: a checklist

Toolkits & Guides
Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University
2 p.

Attitudes towards sexual diversity in Australia have undergone remarkable change in the last 10 years. Gay men and lesbians experience greater social acceptance and less discrimination than in the past. More public identities have been willing to be open about their sexuality. Despite these changes, a young person who is same sex attracted, or who thinks they might be, cannot be sure of their reception - at home or at school. Research tells us that 60% of same-sex attracted young people experience abuse, and that the greatest amount of the abuse (74%) occurs at schools. These figures do not represent the impact of living with a background 'soundtrack' that being gay is wrong, and being heterosexual is the only right way to be. Nor have we measured the impact of abuse on young people who are not necessarily same sex attracted but who fall outside of accepted gender stereotypes. It does not take much imagination to consider the effects of this on a young person's health and identity. We know that when young people experience homophobic abuse they are more likely to self harm. This is one reason why accounting for sexual diversity is relevant to providing a good education - not only for the sake of supporting individual students, but to help make whole environments less hostile, and more accepting. This checklist is intended to help identify strategies that might make a difference for students (as well as their families, and staff). It could also be used to help articulate goals, targets and strategies for your school's Strategic Plan, for the improvement of young people's safety, wellbeing and engagement in learning. Research shows that approximately 10% of all students in your school experience feelings of same sex attraction.

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