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In A Landscape Of Disinformation, Schools’ Pride Week Is More Important Than Ever

InsideOUT Kōaro presents
Schools’ Pride Week Aotearoa
June 17-21 2024

Celebrating Pride in Every School - Whakanuia te uenuku ki ia kura

Now in its fifth year, InsideOUT Kōaro are prouder than ever to celebrate Schools’ Pride Week Aotearoa - a nationwide rainbow pride campaign in schools, running June 17-21 2024. Schools’ Pride Week Aotearoa is a celebratory week of events and activities to help foster a sense of belonging for rainbow young people within their schools and communities. In 2023, over 60% of New Zealand secondary schools took part.

“In today’s political climate, we are seeing a rise in disinformation and hateful rhetoric targeting rainbow communities,” says Tabby Besley, InsideOUT’s Managing Director. “This rise has been documented extensively in local and international research. In our work, we are witnessing how this trickles down into schools and the detrimental impact this has on young people’s wellbeing. Paired with the government’s plan to remove and replace the RSE guidelines which support schools to create rainbow inclusive schools, it’s been an extra difficult time for rainbow young people when it comes to feeling like a valued part of their schools.”

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Schools’ Pride Week itself has been subjected to numerous disinformation and defamation campaigns in recent years. These attacks have been led by well-known anti-rainbow hate groups and ultraconservative Christian organisations. Despite the pushback, InsideOUT and hundreds of schools around the country are undeterred as they celebrate Pride.

“Acknowledging and celebrating the existence of rainbow young people, whānau and communities is at the heart of Schools’ Pride Week,” says Besley. “Our hope is that this week helps teach rangatahi about the importance of diversity, inclusion and equality and gives those that identify within the rainbow community a sense of belonging at school.”

As with previous years, school events for Schools’ Pride Week Aotearoa will typically be run by students, with rainbow diversity groups showcasing their leadership skills to advocate for safer, more inclusive school environments.

“Schools Pride Week was my first exposure to the LGBTQIA+ community at my school, and it made me feel safe knowing that at least there were others who I could talk to” says a previous youth participant.

When asked what they would like to see changed in their schools, InsideOUT’s Schools’ Pride Week Youth Advisory Group members shared:

  • Asking to be heard is not wanting to be more important than others. Diversity is better for EVERYONE.
  • An end to homophobia, transphobia and insults like ‘that’s so gay’ and for hate crimes and bullying to be taken seriously.
  • More education about diversity and awareness of what rainbow communities face.
  • More queer literature in the library.
  • Gender neutral uniform options.

A safe space to be open about who they are, such as a queer straight alliance group.

Schools Pride Week Aotearoa also coincides with Out on the Shelves, an opportunity for school and community libraries to build and promote their rainbow collections, celebrate rainbow stories and help connect rainbow young people with these stories and with each other.

Learn more at pride.school.nz

Supplementary research:

In the Identify survey of over 2000 rainbow secondary school students, over one third (37%) said that they had experienced bullying at school at least once in the past 12 months. Trans students were more likely to have been bullied in the past 12 months than cisgender students (46% vs 27%).

The New Zealand government’s national youth health and wellbeing What About Me 2021 survey report also found rainbow young people were more likely to experience bullying than the majority of other young people, with 48% having experienced bullying in the last 12 months.

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