WA Equal Opportunity Commissioner Allanah Lucas would like to congratulate the school of a year three transgender child for allowing her to compete in a school sporting event as her chosen gender.
Ms Lucas said not only did educational institutions have legal obligations with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, they also had a duty of care to their students.
“The national Writing Themselves in 3 report revealed that among the same-sex and gender questioning young people interviewed who suffered abuse, 80 percent reported school was the most likely place it would occur,” she said.
The report said this was particularly damaging because many of this group did not have parental support outside school hours.
Ms Lucas said following the Writing themselves in 3 report, the Equal Opportunity Commission had produced a set of guidelines to assist school communities in addressing sexual and gender diversity.
“The Guidelines for Supporting Sexual and Gender Diversity in Schools gives parents, teachers and students information about sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, as well as what can be done about it from a legislative and policy perspective,” she said.
Ms Lucas said the Guidelines also covered why sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination was so damaging.
“Among other things, because of bullying and isolation same-sex attracted and gender questioning young people are more likely to leave school early and have increased risks of drug abuse, homelessness and suicide,” she said.
Ms Lucas said that one’s gender was integral to a person’s identity and this included being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI).
“Young people needed to feel good about themselves in order to reach their full potential regardless of gender or sexuality,” she said.
Ms Lucas said initiatives for inclusion of LGBTI students such as the Safe Schools Coalition had enjoyed great success in Victoria and had recently been launched in NSW with the endorsement of Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson.
She said although Safe Schools hadn’t launched in WA yet, it was encouraging to hear stories about transgender children successfully competing in sporting events and being able to use toilets appropriate to their chosen gender.
“Surely as a society we want to see all our young people develop their diverse capabilities to become confident and participating citizens rather than having systems and outmoded attitudes which ostracise young people.
“Supporting young people to be happy and healthy is just common sense,” she said.
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