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Pink Vests for Taggers Divisive

PRESS RELEASE: Wednesday 04 June 2008

Pink Vests for Taggers Divisive

The Wellington community police constable who is making taggers wear pink vests as punishment has prompted alarm from the youth group OUT THERE.

“Wearing pink tagger vests draws on homophobic fears of wearing pink, and the whole concept of embarrassing young people rather than strengthening them is appalling.” said Nathan Brown, National Coordinator of OUT THERE, a youth development organisation for non-heterosexual and transgender youth.

“The homophobic part is what is said about the jackets by both taggers and the Police rather than the jackets themselves. They need to be careful presenting them in schools so that they are not playing on fears of not being seen as a real man.” “Homophobia is rampant in our schools as it is without another thing that exacerbates this prejudice. Words like ‘homo’ and ‘faggot’ are thrown around school grounds hundreds of times a day.

“Our communities have a lot of work to do in terms of providing a safe environment for non-heterosexual and transgender young people, and if it means not using pink vests then I am all for that.”

A study by Otago University 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.

The Youth 2000 study found that around one in 12 high school students are non-heterosexual, and more than two-thirds who reported being attracted to the same or both sexes were not open about their orientation.


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