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Title: Challenging sexuality & gender based bullying in schools: The executive summary of a report about sexual orientation & gender identity discrimination in WA schools
Contributor(s): Jones, Tiffany  (author)
Corporate Author: Equal Opportunity Commission of Western Australia
Publication Date: 2012
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Abstract: Greater recognition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity led the United Nations to take a direct stand against school-based homophobic bullying. The UN Secretary-General called the prevalence of this specific type of bullying a public health crisis. UNESCO has released several documents guiding education sectors globally to explicitly address it. Education leadership are advised to take urgent action, and to prevent the need for a reactive approach to homophobic discrimination and bullying driven by the type of legal actions and public protests now emerging across several Australian states. Human rights statements and laws have recently been introduced that protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity which many Australian education stakeholders may not be aware of, or reflecting in policy and practice. However, media controversies surrounding school-based discrimination will not have escaped notice, particularly around same-sex couples at school formals and teen suicides stemming from homophobic bullying. Around 2% of people are born intersex and there is an increasing number of youth who question their gender identity. Further, 10% of secondary students identify as gay or lesbian, and bisexuality may count for over one-third of adolescents' sexual experiences. Research reveals that as Australian GLBTIQ students increasingly 'come out' they are actually experiencing more abuse at school than in previous years: 61% reported verbal homophobic abuse, 18% reported physical homophobic abuse and 69% reported other forms. Overall, 80% experienced the abuse at school (up from 69% a decade ago). Other problems included a lack of relevant sexuality education, and deficiencies in social and structural supports. Education policy can make a difference to these issues at both state/ sector and school levels. GLBTIQ students in Victoria and NSW particularly benefit from state level anti-homophobia policies, and GLBTIQ students who know their schools have policy protection in place are more likely to feel safe (75% v. 45%) and to report a specific GLBTIQ support feature at their school (84% v. 41%). Strikingly, they are almost half as likely to be physically abused at school, less likely to self-harm and almost half as likely to attempt suicide due to homophobia. Distinct protective policies that explicitly name homophobic discrimination and bullying can make a potentially dramatic difference to self-harm and suicide rates for one of the most vulnerable youth groups in Australian society today.
Publication Type: Report
Publisher: Western Australian Equal Opportunity Commission
Place of Publication: Perth, Australia
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 130308 Gender, Sexuality and Education
130105 Primary Education (excl Maori)
130199 Education systems not elsewhere classified
130106 Secondary Education
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 390304 Primary education
390406 Gender, sexuality and education
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development
930599 Education and Training Systems not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 160205 Policies and development
HERDC Category Description: R1 Report
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Appears in Collections:Report
School of Education

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