Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 October 2018) . . Page.. 4153 ..
must ensure that ACT law protects LGBTIQ Canberrans from discrimination in our schools and the wider community. I hope all members will stand against discrimination by supporting this motion, and I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Social Inclusion and Equality, Minister for Tourism and Special Events and Minister for Trade, Industry and Investment) (11.27): I thank Ms Orr for bringing this motion forward today. It comes in the context of a pretty crass political exercise by the federal government in relation to both the commissioning of the Ruddock review and then also the way in which it has become public. It is certainly disappointing to see that the leaked Ruddock review recommended an entrenching of discrimination against LGBTIQ students and teachers in Australia’s schools.
We know why it was not publicly released before the Wentworth by-election. We know the impact now of the leaking of those recommendations on the result of that by-election and we know community attitudes around Australia to any attempt to further entrench discrimination in our education system. The full Ruddock review should be released now, but it should have been released months ago.
Personally, I am very disappointed that the type of discrimination that has been talked about since the leaking of those recommendations is arguably still possible under our territory’s current discrimination laws, despite the considerably stronger protections that are in place in the territory’s Human Rights Act.
The impact of these exemptions is significant in practice. Around one-third of Canberra’s students attend schools that could potentially legally discriminate against them on the basis of sexuality, gender identity or relationship status. The number of teachers and other staff who can be lawfully discriminated against is just as confronting.
In 2017, 41 per cent of all in-school staff full-time equivalent positions in the ACT were in Catholic or independent schools. So if you are an LGBTIQ teacher, the proportion of teacher positions that could be unavailable to you because of discrimination is substantial. The potential for discrimination also creates stigma and can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
A recent report into the needs of same-sex attracted students noted that to avoid potential discrimination and abuse, many same-sex attracted young people hide their sexuality, not sharing it with teachers, counsellors or their peers. Many are worried about what would happen to them if someone in the school or the wider community found out about their sexuality.
I know this from personal experience as a student in the ACT education system in the 1980s and 1990s. I hope that in the years ahead, Madam Assistant Speaker, this will not be an issue for students in our education system. I want to acknowledge this morning that many, if not nearly all, religious and independent schools in the ACT system do not wish to discriminate and do not seek to use provisions that currently exist within territory law, and indeed within federal law, and are in fact at