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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 May 2018) . . Page.. 1547 ..

children to be themselves. Creating safe and inclusive schools is about ensuring students, families and teachers are supported and provided with access to resources that create inclusive education environments.

I thank everyone who signed this petition and, in particular, those who have continued to support young LGBTIQ people in our city. The ACT Barr government has always supported young LGBTIQ people and we always will. Over 1,400 petitioners have requested the Assembly support safe and inclusive schools in the ACT, so I encourage all members to do so.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (11.41), by leave: As Ms Orr said, the Greens, of course, fully support this petition, and I am really heartened that it was supported so well by members of our community—nearly 1,500 people signed it, which is great. I believe all ACT schools need to respect and understand the diversity of needs and experiences of children and young people who are entrusted into their care. Support for students who experience diversity in gender identity and presentation, sexual orientation and intersex status is crucial to promote their social, economic, educational and emotional wellbeing and development.

All children should be treated equally, but in some circumstances to achieve equal and fair outcomes different steps need to be taken. We do not all travel on the same path. The safe and inclusive schools program is a great example of how to engage children and young people about gender and sexuality and identity issues in a safe and inclusive way. The ACT Greens encourage all schools to adopt it as a means to support those students who identify as LGBTIQ or who may do so in the future.

Not only does it demonstrate acceptance of difference for those who are directly affected but it also fosters tolerance and compassion in the school community more broadly. We know gender and sexual identity can be particularly challenging issues for families and peer groups, so it is especially important that there are other avenues available for students to seek and, importantly, receive support.

From a developmental perspective, identity issues are common amongst all adolescents. In an ideal world we would be no more afraid or hesitant to discuss LGBTIQ identity than other forms of development that occur throughout childhood and young adulthood.

It is great to see that a program developed locally by the long-established Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT has been adopted to roll out more broadly in our local schools. With the recent comments by members of the federal government lending support to the utterly discredited practice of so-called gay conversion therapy, I think it is excellent timing to support and acknowledge the safe schools program as it provides an important, non-judgemental educational opportunity to dispel harmful myths and fear of people who identify as LGBTIQ.

Importantly, I support these efforts to ensure that children and young people who identify as LGBTIQ or who have friends or family members who identify as such are not discriminated against and are valued and included as important and equal members of our community.

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