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Guides for setting up a safe, inclusive spaces in secondary schools launched
Comprehensive information and ideas for teachers and students on how to start up a Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) in a secondary school are now available online.
GSAs are student-led social support groups focused on making secondary schools safer and more inclusive for LGBTIQA+ students, their families and allies. Sexually diverse, bisexual, transgender and/or gender-diverse, intersex, questioning, heterosexual/straight and cisgender allies, students with LGBTIQA+ families and students who don't use a label for their sexual orientations, intersex status or gender identities are all welcome as members of a GSA.
The Gender and Sexuality Alliance Connect guides – which align with NSW Department of Education policies and guidelines – are a collaboration led by Twenty10 incorporating GLCS NSW (Twenty 10), Federation and Wear it Purple, and supported by School Link: South West Sydney Local Health District and the Independent Education Union NSW/ACT Branch.
At the launch event hosted by Federation, President Angelo Gavrielatos said: "Prejudice in and out of schools impacts our kids and members," said. "This work is so important. We will do all we can to support students and members."
Bella Humphreys, who was a member of a GSA as a student at Colo High School, spoke of the importance of a GSA as a safe space. "Students may not have access to any other queer spaces," they said.
Twenty 10 ambassador and Sydney University academic specialising in child and adolescent health Cristyn Davies said gender and sexuality diverse students deserve to be actively supported so that they can thrive like their cisgender peers.
Federation Deputy Secretary (Communications and Administration) and officer attached to LGBTIQA+ issues Mel Smith said: "In having a GSA you are addressing the core wellbeing need: that students need to be safe in an educational environment."
Western Sydney University Associate Professor of Adolescent Development, Behaviour and Wellbeing Jacqueline Ullman's research has found that where students feel their school is inclusive towards gender and sexuality diversity, they feel more connected to school.
Twenty 10 co-executive director Terence Humphreys said he couldn't wait for schools to implement the guides. "Better academic outcomes, better health outcomes. What more could you possibly want?"
Natalie Hudson, Federation Representative at University of Newcastle – Callaghan Campus, who previously set up a GSA in a school, said the guides are a long-overdue resource for schools. "[Students and teachers] won't have to build the plane while they fly it."
The Gender and Sexuality Alliance Connect documents are:
- Background information for educators: Gender and Sexuality Alliance
- Start-up guide for educators: Setting up a Gender and Sexuality Alliance
- Start-up guide for students: Building and Activating your Gender and Sexuality Alliance.
They can be accessed via gsaconnect.org.au
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