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New Bullying Guidelines Welcomed

PRESS RELEASE: Thursday 03 July 2008

New Bullying Guidelines Welcomed

Today’s announcement from Chris Carter, Minister of Education, that the Education Review Office (ERO) will now be required to check that schools have specific strategies in place to address homophobia and other forms of bullying, is being welcomed by a national youth development programme, OUT THERE!

OUT THERE! is a national youth development project of Rainbow Youth and the New Zealand AIDS Foundation committed to positive youth development of samesex- attracted and transgender young people.

“The majority of schools have failed students by tolerating homophobia that marginalises gay and lesbian students. This initiative now sends a clear message that homophobia is something that schools must address as part of creating an inclusive and positive learning environment” said Nathan Brown, National Coordinator of OUT THERE!

“Words like ‘homo’ and ‘faggot’ are heard in schools and classrooms hundreds of times a day. Homophobic bullying and harassment has been one of the last acceptable forms of discrimination. It is fantastic to see our education system finally starting to accept that something needs to be done” said Brown.

Studies suggest that schools have a lot of work to do in terms of providing a safe environment for same-sex-attracted students. A University of Otago study in 2003 found only 5% of students and 7% of staff from over 100 high schools believed gay, lesbian or bisexual students would feel safe at their schools.

An ERO review of sexuality education in secondary schools last year found that only 20% of schools gave students the opportunity to explore issues such as homophobia, acceptance, and diversity. The Youth 2000 study found that around one in twelve high school students are non-heterosexual, and more than two-thirds who reported being attracted to the same or both sexes had not told anyone about their same-sex orientation.

ENDS

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