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Actively showing our support
Trade Union Training Officer
With the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras comes an increase of rainbows across the city, from businesses, government bodies and community.
While some of this may be well meaning marketing aiming for the “pink dollar”, the impact of these inclusive gestures can be wide-felt and appreciated.
A recent report, Make Love Louder report by Macquarie University researcher Shirleene Robinson (commissioned by Absolut in the lead up to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras) indicated that the toll from the marriage equality postal survey and current debates around the religious freedom bill is taking a heavy toll on LGBTIQ folk. This damage is particularly intense because people believe that the government has the ability to reduce LGBTIQ discrimination, but is instead considering new forms of discrimination, that will be detrimental to LGBTIQ people’s health and wellbeing.
The report indicated that while LGBTIQ communities are undergoing a difficult time with discrimination and scrutiny, people who support the rights of this community are often not fully aware of this. Allies and friends are also not fully alert to the important role they can play in opposing discrimination and prejudice.
This support can be visual, with rainbow flags, stickers and/or posters indicating that the location is a safe one for LGBTIQ people and standing up against anti-LGBTIQ speech.
Allies of LGBTIQ folk can also demonstrate their support by using respectful language about the LGBTIQ community and helping LGBTIQ people and perspectives to be seen and heard.
Expressing support for LGBTIQ people on social media and elsewhere is another method that people use to demonstrate their support of LGBTIQ folk, and is one of the ways that Federation is communicating our support of LGBTIQ members, students and community members.
In terms of employment, previous research indicated that 10 per cent of LGBTIQ Australians believe they have been refused employFit is vitalment or promotion as a result of their sexuality. This trend was higher in Federation’s research with Western Sydney University, about disadvantage and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ teachers, where almost a third (30 per cent) of respondents reported a negative effect on their career progression or career opportunities due to their sexuality or gender identity.
Federation’s float in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was themed “It’s Our Time”. It is vital that all teachers in NSW public schools can come to work each day and be themselves in a safe and supported environment.
They should always feel a strong part of any team and feel safe to speak up when things occur that make them uncomfortable. What matters is that everyone is accepted in their workplace and every person feels known, valued and cared for every day.
Federation was also active at Fair Day, the launch of Mardi Gras where members had the opportunity to interact with LGBTIQ community members and allies to discuss campaigns important to the provision of public education and the support of LGBTIQ folk in schools.
Federation member and volunteer at Fair Day, Rebecca Langham discussed the importance of Federation’s involvement in these activities stating: “Schools are often the heart of a community. As members of Federation, we have so many fabulous opportunities to keep contributing to those communities beyond our school gates. We are able to help promote a more inclusive and accepting environment for each other and for our students and their families.”
While there are many activities that take place during the festival of Mardi Gras, there are opportunities across the year and the state that LGBTIQ community members and allies can be involved in to demonstrate their support for our LGBTIQ colleagues, students and community members.
Local Associations can also actively support their local LGBTIQ communities in a range of ways, like these activities planned by Associations:
- Wagga Wagga Teachers Association will be marching in the Wagga Wagga Mardi Gras on Saturday, 14 March
- Hay Teachers Association will be taking part in the Rainbow on the Plains Festival on Saturday, 28 March
- Inner City Teachers Association will host a seminar, Supporting LGBTIQ students in school, on Thursday, 19 March
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