LGBTI Education

Homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersexphobia continue to be major problems in education within Australia.

If you aren’t convinced about that, then might I suggest you read the disturbing results of this survey from the start of 2017:

The State of Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia: Part 4, Discrimination in Education

There are several contributing factors to this appalling situation.

One of the most important are the exceptions provided to religious schools allowing them to discriminate against LGBT students, teachers and other staff in most jurisdictions. These exceptions are summarised in the following post:

Back to School, Back to Discrimination for LGBT Students and Teachers

Perhaps the most disappointing part of this is that we are all paying – in the literal sense – for this discrimination:

Who Pays for Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia?

In late 2018, there was a brief moment where it seemed like there might be movement on this issue at Commonwealth level. In the lead-up to the Wentworth by-election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised to protect LGBT students in religious schools against discrimination before the end of that year.

Rather than introducing legislation, however, the Morrison Liberal/National Government sent these issues to a Senate inquiry. Here is my post encouraging people to make submissions to that inquiry:

Protecting LGBT Students and Teachers Against Discrimination

Immediately before the 2019 Federal election, Morrison’s Attorney-General Christian Porter then referred the issue of religious exceptions generally to the Australian Law Reform Commission for review, while saying the previous promise to protect vulnerable kids would not be implemented until after the ALRC process was complete. Here is my explanation of where things stood ahead of the federal election on 18 May 2019:

What ever happened to protecting LGBT students against discrimination? An explainer.

Unfortunately, the situation deteriorated further after the Morrison Government’s re-election. In August 2019, Christian Porter then released the First Exposure Draft Religious Discrimination Bill for consultation, with a Second Exposure Draft released in December of that year. Porter then quietly changed the reporting timeline for the ALRC to be 12 months after the Religious Discrimination Bill is passed – which may not, and hopefully won’t, ever happen. The consequence of these delays mean that Scott Morrison’s Broken Promise to Protect LGBT Students is Now Two Years Old (and counting).

Another problem is that what is taught in schools – all schools – is not inclusive of LGBTI content, and therefore does not meet the needs of LGBTI students. This includes both the national Health & Physical Education curriculum:

Letter to Minister Pyne Calling for COAG to Reject Health & Physical Education Curriculum Due to Ongoing LGBTI Exclusion

And the NSW Personal Development, Health and Physical Education syllabus:

Every Student. Every School. Submission on Draft NSW Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) K-10 Syllabus


Invisibility in the Curriculum

A third issue is the decision by the Liberal-National Commonwealth Government to continue wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on the dangerous and unjustified National School Chaplaincy Program:

Dear Joe Hockey, $245 million for School Chaplains? You Cannot be Serious


Treasurer Frydenberg, Please Abolish the National School Chaplaincy Program

This stands in contrast to their 2016 decision, under then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to axe funding for the Safe Schools program, despite the fact that it was effective, evidence-based, age appropriate and cost a mere $8million over four years. It is now up to state and territory governments (and potentially a new Commonwealth Labor Government) to restore funding for this program:

Saving Safe Schools