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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1381 ..


As I said, the opposition will not be opposing this motion. I think that it raises some pertinent points. We are supportive of all children in our school system—in all our schools, public and non-government—and we are an inclusive society, we are an inclusive Assembly, and I do not think that we should allow some obscure private member’s bill in another parliament to distract us from that or suggest otherwise here in the ACT. If the outcome of this debate is to make that clear for Mr Pettersson, then hopefully it has achieved his objectives of this debate today.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (3.16): I, of course, speak in support of Mr Pettersson’s motion today. I note Mr Hanson’s comments but that is why talking to this motion today is important. It is about reassuring young people in our community that in this parliament that kind of abhorrent behaviour, just across the border, would not happen here because our Canberra community is a community known for its equality—the first territory, the first government, to support marriage equality in this country—and our community values diversity and is enthusiastic about inclusion. We need to continue to say that to make sure that trans and gender diverse young people feel that in every part of their lives.

Every young person deserves to live free of harassment. Every young person deserves to live free of exclusion and judgement. But we know that LGBTIQA+ young people continue to experience hostility in public, in their homes, on the sports field, at school—and this does lead to poorer mental health outcomes for these young members of our community—and by those who might not be as supportive of these young people as we are all saying that we are today.

I ask you to imagine that you are a young person in school, where everything around you tells you that you are either a boy or a girl, pink or blue, if you are a boy you like girls and if you are a girl you like boys, and there just are not any other visible ways of being and you cannot see any other identities or you are prevented from being able to see, but you know. How are you, as a young person, supposed to figure out who you are in that kind of environment? It is no surprise that young people would be thinking very carefully about all this, all the possible negative reactions that would come at you by saying out loud that you are different, that you feel different to that, or that you are treated different to that.

That is why the ACT government is committed to supporting trans and gender diverse young people, including through the capital equality strategy. I do not want the experiences of young people to be like that in our community, especially not in our schools.

I want to talk about some of the things that our ACT schools do to make our young people feel safer and more secure and supported in our schools when they are going through that decision. One is through the safe and inclusive schools initiative. It is an important initiative. It has been funded by the ACT government to provide that advice, support, resources, professional learning for teachers and students and parents. It is


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