Page 3305 - Week 09 - Thursday, 24 August 2017

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way that I can, in every single one of our schools: in our public schools, in our independent schools and in our Catholic schools. I will stand by every LGBTIQ kid, and the ACT government will not be changing its mind about safe schools. I will not be changing my mind about safe schools, and I will make sure that the duty of care that each of us has in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of every child is met. I take that very seriously, and Mr Wall should as well. Shame on you, Mr Wall, for bringing this petition into the Assembly today.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (10.08), by leave: The timing of this petition is very unfortunate. At the time of the same-sex marriage voluntary postal survey, the LGBTI community already feels under fire, and it is really unfortunate that this is the time that has been chosen to decry the one program that we have in our schools that addresses the bullying that these young people face.

This should not be a political issue. It is a human issue. It never ceases to amaze me that those against LGBTI equality do not understand that it is the lack of acceptance and legitimacy of being same-sex attracted, intersex or gender diverse that simply perpetuates the harm and discrimination that these young people feel and experience.

This is what leads to the increased prevalence of mental health issues amongst these young people. I know this on a personal level from contact with kids and adults who are in that situation, and I feel I have to make a brief acknowledgement of Karl, now known as Karli.

There is certainly evidence to suggest that where efforts are made to reduce discrimination, bullying and abuse, students have better educational and mental health outcomes. Of course, I support, as Ms Berry so eloquently does, the ACT government’s commitment to deliver safe schools education in ACT schools. It is the least that we can do for these children. As far as I am aware, the original education package has in fact been changed to suit the ACT context, and links to certain websites which were seen as objectionable have been removed.

I fear that many in the community, unfortunately, are subscribing to mistruths about this program because they really know nothing about it. I suggest to those people who are concerned about it that if they have a minute, to go to the website. I have been to the website. It is really not that intimidating and scary. The fact of the matter is that we have LGBTIQ people in our schools and/or kids who are not in that cohort but who live with parents who are in that cohort.

These young people deserve to feel that they are accepted and okay. Their families and friends deserve to know that when they go to school they will be accepted for who they are. This constant attack on a program that is designed to reduce and prevent bullying is simply wrong. I quote from the safe schools website:

The program offers approved support services and resources to educators to equip them with knowledge and skills to create safer and more inclusive school environments. All resources have been deemed age-appropriate, educationally sound and have been reviewed by an expert panel of educators for use in secondary schools.

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