Read our defense of the Safe Schools program in Parliament today, as we called on the Premier and Education Minister to make a clear statement in support of LGBTIQ young people to combat the damage done by the bullies in their party.
Ms JENNY LEONG ( Newtown ) ( 16:46 :34 ): By leave: On behalf of The Greens I join debate on this petition with sadness. It has been disheartening to watch the crusade against the Safe Schools program that aimed to prevent bullying against vulnerable young people, promote acceptance and understanding of diversity and tell lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer [LGBTIQ] young people and students from diverse families that they are welcome and safe in New South Wales schools. It is disheartening to read the content of this petition today. When programs like Safe Schools are attacked, it has a real impact on the young people who have relied on such programs to support them. When opponents of Safe Schools say that homosexuality is not natural or normal, they are sending a message to those young people that we do not accept them or they are strange and weird. That is not something any young person needs to hear. Government members speaking in support of this petition are sending a damaging message.
I call on the Premier and the Minister for Education to make a clear statement in support of LGBTIQ young people to combat the damage done by the bullies in their party who are fuelling this scare campaign. Bullying or discriminating against someone based on their sexuality or gender identity is unacceptable at an individual level. When amplified by shock jocks in media outlets and elected members of this Parliament, that behaviour is downright shameful. To the young people hurt by this I say that The Greens, members on our side of the Chamber, so many in the community and I stand with them against the bullies. Like those young people, we know the cultural diversity of the LGBTIQ community. We know that those who experience racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia need to be united in rejecting all forms of bullying discrimination. We know that diversity is not something to be tolerated but something to be celebrated.
School is a difficult time for young people as they begin to understand who they are, start to discover themselves and think about their future. During that time young people must feel safe in their community and their school. When a young person questioning their sexuality or their gender identity hears ugly criticisms of programs designed to help them, immense harm is done. This week a new fund designed to prevent programs targeting at‑risk LGBTIQ people was announced by the New South Wales Government. The Government recognises this is a problem. We should not be cutting resources to support LGBTIQ young people; we should be doing everything that we can to reduce this harm. Last time this issue was debated, my colleague the member for Balmain raised the voices of young people in this place. It is the young people who are being hurt by these actions. There have been genuinely damaging activities, and I call again on the Premier and the Minister for Education to send a message of support to LGBTIQ young people that, despite the harmful words that have been said, they support these young people and they will ensure that they are safe in schools.