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Andrew Barr to bring more gay education to Canberra’s schools

By 21 January 2011 36

Andrew Barr Twitter Feed

The Sydney Morning Herald has a story on a new program being rolled out in NSW schools to “encourage gay role models and open discussion of homosexuality in schools” called “Proud Schools”

The Canberra angle is that the Education Minister Andrew Barr has just tweeted that he’s hoping to bring the program to the ACT’s schools.

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36 Responses to Andrew Barr to bring more gay education to Canberra’s schools
#1
dustytrail11:10 am, 21 Jan 11

Yawn! I would imagine that school students are a lot less homophobic than the rest of the population. Why is Barr bothering with this … other than the fact that he is a homosexual?

#2
Captain RAAF11:38 am, 21 Jan 11

Not a hope in Hell!!!!

As much chance of me standing for this as there is of the Aboriginal flag being flown higher than the ANF at Charles Conder Primary, aint gonna happen!

Looks like another trip to the principles office…..

#3
Swaggie11:59 am, 21 Jan 11

If he had kids he’d know damn well that, as Dustytrail #1 says, kids don’t give a toss about being homophopbic. Barr is obviously under worked where there are a hundred different and more relevant programmes he could be rolling out across the schools and this is all he can think of.

#4
Thoroughly Smashed11:59 am, 21 Jan 11

Captain RAAF said :

Looks like another trip to the principles office…..

Maybe you can pick some up while you’re there.

#5
Waiting For Godot12:11 pm, 21 Jan 11

An ACT version being developed? Are all the references to Oxford St being replaced with Kambah Pool?

#6
trevar12:33 pm, 21 Jan 11

Captain RAAF said :

Looks like another trip to the principles office…..

Perhaps you could get some spelling lessons as well as some principles.

#7
Virgo19721:03 pm, 21 Jan 11

Andrew Barr might be the Minister for Education and gay, but he’s not a parent. I hope he’s planning a lengthy timeframe for parental consultation prior to any implementation plan as majority approval will take a very long time.

I also object to the word ‘homophobic’. A phobia is a persistant, irrational, innate fear of something. I’ve heard lots of anti-gay comments in my time but i’ve never seen anyone actually have a phobic reaction to a gay or lesbian person. This is a term created by the gay community that is designed to envoke sympathy to an otherwise unworthy cause. I’m very keen to hear others opinions on this.

#8
PM1:23 pm, 21 Jan 11

One way of ensuring kids don’t group up to be homophobic is to treat homosexuals as equal, right?

In which case, why create such a fuss?

#9
Diggety1:46 pm, 21 Jan 11

It seems Barr is prioritising his personal lifestyle over those of the community of which he is supposed to represent.

There are far more important (and IMO appropriate) issues which need to be emphasised in schools; like reading, writing and mathematics for example.

#10
Tyg2:43 pm, 21 Jan 11

Hi, long time lurker, first time commenter.

While the younger generation is increasingly comfortable with same sex orientation there is still homophobia within Canberran schools. I don’t really understand why there is this fuss about the idea. All it’s going to be is a program about how calling someone a fag is hurtful. That hey kids, some people like to romance others of their own gender. That some of those people are successful in their professional lives and that there’s nothing wrong with being gay.

All of that seems self evident enough to me, but I’m not being brought up by someone telling me that if I was gay, I’d be kicked out of home, (as indeed one of my daughter’s friends was told). I’m not being called fag because I’m not good at football. I don’t have three of my fellow students following me own my way home after school and throwing homophobic slurs and small stones at me.

This proposed program will do no harm that I can see, and only should do good. If Barr’s own orientation has any influence on this, I would imagine that’s because he can remember being a gay teenager and feels empathy for those being bullied now.

I want my children to learn reading, writing and mathematics at school, but I also expect them to learn how to be civilised outside of family influence.

#11
Kayellar2:55 pm, 21 Jan 11

If any of you knew how painful and difficult it can be to be a gay kid in school, you would be embarrassed with reading these completely thoughtless statements.

The purspose of these programs isn’t to try and indoctrinate or ‘promote lifestyles’ but to combat the isolation that young LGBT people can feel in the playground. Sure there are some young people who are completely comfortable with their sexuality, out and proud at school. But there are also a great many more who struggle with their sexuality, listen to their identity being denigrated as an everyday playground slur (“that’s so gay” etc) and being made to feel inferior or having to hide who they are.

Having supportive school environments, where these young people spend nearly a 3rd of their waking lives during their formative years, is crucial in combat the fear, ignorance and intolerance that leads to so many of the problems many face later in life. I think Minister Barr should be applauded encouraging schools to be safe, not hostile, environments for their charges.

I am disgusted that any parent should feel it is ok to send their or any other child into environments where they should feel unsafe, invisible and worthless. Who knows, maybe it’s your child they are trying to support with this initiative.

For whatever reason heteronormativity and heterosexism (is that better than homophobia???) are still seen as acceptable. Racism, sexism and active discrimination or disadvantage of any other group has long since been unacceptable at school. It’s time sexual and gender identity was given the same respect.

#12
johnboy2:59 pm, 21 Jan 11

Apparently you lot are demonstrating the need for this program: http://twitter.com/#!/ABarrMLA

#13
Felix3:52 pm, 21 Jan 11

There might be some basis for wondering about how effective any program would be – I often fear that well-intentioned efforts like this sometimes backfire. For that matter, given the way ‘gay’ gets used as a pejorative, I still wonder if it wouldn’t be better to have settled on a ‘poofter power’ movement and spat that word, with defiance and pride, right back in the faces of the sad and insecure creeps who are unable to allow another person their freedom, but are the first to squeal if any of their percieved rights to be as obnoxious as they choode are in any way restricted.

#14
Captain RAAF4:06 pm, 21 Jan 11

trevar said :

Captain RAAF said :

Looks like another trip to the principles office…..

Perhaps you could get some spelling lessons as well as some principles.

Thats pretty rich, coming from a bloke that can’t spell Trevor correctly!

#15
Deref5:08 pm, 21 Jan 11

Bloody excellent. Prejudice has no place in Australia and the place to start is education in the schools.

Virgo1972 said :

I also object to the word ‘homophobic’. A phobia is a persistant, irrational, innate fear of something. I’ve heard lots of anti-gay comments in my time but i’ve never seen anyone actually have a phobic reaction to a gay or lesbian person. This is a term created by the gay community that is designed to envoke sympathy to an otherwise unworthy cause. I’m very keen to hear others opinions on this.

Object all you like. The fact is that people who are prejudiced against homosexuality (or skin colour for that matter) are displaying a persistent, irrational and innate fear of it. “Homophobia” is the correct and appropriate term.

Example in question: “an otherwise unworthy cause”. So combating prejudice against homosexuals is unworthy? Why? Do you believe combating racial prejudice is “unworthy” too?

#16
housebound9:42 pm, 21 Jan 11

There are a lot of straight kids who are hopeless at sport, bullied for it, and not gay. There are kids who are bashed on the way home for being different (colour, ability, shyness), or just for being there. We know some of them. All these kids need protecting, not just the gay kids.

This just reeks of Barr pushing a narrow agenda that he has a significant interest in, when a broader agenda could do so much good. If Barr were genuine about all this, then he would look at a broader anti-discrimination strategy that says ALL forms of prejudice, bullying, abuse and discrimination are unacceptable. How on earth it will fit into an already overcrowded curriculum, that is going to be even harder to manage with the national curriculum, is another question entirely.

For that matter, if Barr were serious about good behaviour, he would demonstrate it himself and cease bullying when members of the community don’t agree with him.

#17
Frustrated9:50 pm, 21 Jan 11

Captain RAAF said :

trevar said :

Captain RAAF said :

Looks like another trip to the principles office…..

Perhaps you could get some spelling lessons as well as some principles.

Thats pretty rich, coming from a bloke that can’t spell Trevor correctly!

Bit of knucklehead are you?

I bet you follow the bum sniffing sports too!

#18
Gerry-Built9:50 pm, 21 Jan 11

Deref said :

Bloody excellent. Prejudice has no place in Australia and the place to start is education in the schools.

Education begins at home. Most school students’ negative attitudes are bought from home, particularly in regards to homosexuality. Schools, and their staff, are just expected to deal with the results of poor parenting… Which is simply being reinforced at home, in the case of the children that actually need such a program.

Perhaps Barr could support schools better in their ability to actually discipline offenders more appropriately.

#19
Gerry-Built11:05 pm, 21 Jan 11

Any such program should be more focused on acceptance generally. I don’t recall seeing students isolated, bullied or attacked for being ‘gay’; though I have seen many, many students go through hell because they are ‘different’ in other ways.

…interesting to see what the Catholic schools will make of this program.

#20
Meisha3:29 am, 22 Jan 11

A program to build understanding and respect and counter ignorance and intolerance deserves to be supported. Homophobia doesn’t just affect same sex attracted people it affects boys and men who may not be as ‘manly’ or masculine as other males. It affects girls and woman who may not be as ‘feminine’ as other girls.  Homophobia is linked to why so many boys don’t continue to study the arts or why some girls may stop sport.   All our children deserve the full range of opportunities safe and inclusive environments provide.  High levels of harassment and violence reported by same-sex attracted young people is just the tip of the iceberg.  Other states address these issues the ACT needs to be doing at least as much.  It is particularly brave for a gay Minister to raise the matter because of the sorts of stupid response included here about promoting a lifestyle.

#21
Deref8:43 am, 22 Jan 11

Gerry-Built said :

Deref said :

Bloody excellent. Prejudice has no place in Australia and the place to start is education in the schools.

Education begins at home. Most school students’ negative attitudes are bought from home, particularly in regards to homosexuality. Schools, and their staff, are just expected to deal with the results of poor parenting… Which is simply being reinforced at home, in the case of the children that actually need such a program.

Perhaps Barr could support schools better in their ability to actually discipline offenders more appropriately.

Indeed. Sadly, though, you can’t go into every home and slap ignorant parents – but you can teach more enlightened attitudes to kids at school.

#22
Tool1:34 pm, 22 Jan 11

And in true political style, responses are not diplayed on his twitter page.

My time is already being taken up teaching my kids Sharia Law, not to refer to us as parents, erasing holidays like Christmas and Easter from their calendars, and now this; I guess soon there will be no time to actually teach children general fundamentals about anythiong other than how to remain politically correct with our minority groups and eliminate that new beast called bullying (I am glad nobody was gay or bullied when I was at school 30 years ago).

Instead of being agenda driven likely as he is a spokesperson for homosexuals, perhaps he could focus on addressing how children are being bullied and cyber awareness etc.

#23
clp10:47 pm, 22 Jan 11

Actually all this has done for me is point out how daft twitter really is and that Andrew Barr should get over it.

I’m fine with the program in essence but don’t release info in this manner unless you want people to make silly comments about it.

#24
georgesgenitals8:08 am, 23 Jan 11

It would be more useful to focus on bullying in schools. This would help a lot more children, and would pick up on many of the themes Barr wants to target with his program anyway.

#25
Mysteryman12:44 pm, 23 Jan 11

johnboy said :

Apparently you lot are demonstrating the need for this program: http://twitter.com/#!/ABarrMLA

Yet another example of the Labor government trying to treat us like children. They are supposed to our representatives, not our parents. It’s a shame they care so little bout what their constituents think.

#26
JustThinking1:43 pm, 23 Jan 11

georgesgenitals said :

It would be more useful to focus on bullying in schools. This would help a lot more children, and would pick up on many of the themes Barr wants to target with his program anyway.

Totally agree!
Start taking action (real action) against bullies and bullying.

It isn’t like it is just “everyone elses problem”
Almost all of us in here would either have a child or know someone with a child who is being bullied OR who is a bully.

#27
Eby3:56 pm, 23 Jan 11

Virgo1972 said :

Andrew Barr might be the Minister for Education and gay, but he’s not a parent. I hope he’s planning a lengthy timeframe for parental consultation prior to any implementation plan as majority approval will take a very long time.

I also object to the word ‘homophobic’. A phobia is a persistant, irrational, innate fear of something. I’ve heard lots of anti-gay comments in my time but i’ve never seen anyone actually have a phobic reaction to a gay or lesbian person. This is a term created by the gay community that is designed to envoke sympathy to an otherwise unworthy cause. I’m very keen to hear others opinions on this.

Firstly, while I’m sure situations in schools have improved, kids do still get bullied for being gay or lesbian; and not just by other students either. I’ve heard a number of stories of teachers and school staff also gossiping or not providing appropriate support to their students (e.g. telling them it’s just a phase).

Recent research has highlighted that young people who experience homophobia (discrimination, whatever you want to call it) mostly experience it within schools, more-so than any other environment.

In terms of the word phobia; while it may not be the correct word; I don’t think anyone really uses it in the same way they would talk about arachnophobia – we are actually talking about discrimination. Get into an argument about semantics if you want, but don’t let it get in the way of the real issue – discrimination.

In relation to the argument about ‘equality’ and therefore not creating a fuss – in order to achieve equality in these areas, we need to use equitable strategies. Currently, students in schools who identify as homosexual do not have access to appropriate information, education and support (e.g. on relationships) that other students have – this is about working towards that equality.

#28
Gerry-Built4:56 pm, 23 Jan 11

Eby said :

Currently, students in schools who identify as homosexual do not have access to appropriate information, education and support (e.g. on relationships) that other students have.

…just wondering how you figure this is the case?

I’m also wondering what other environments were in the study you mentioned, given that home, and school (and possibly P/T work) would be the most common environments for “young people” to be in. Most kids don’t discuss (their own) sexuality with their parents, and are extremely unlikely to do so should they be aware of any negative feeling surrounding homosexuality from their parents. Work is *not* an appropriate environment to discuss sexual preference etc, which pretty much leaves the only location they frequent – school. As a melting pot of the community, and a place where they spend most of their days – it is just as likely most kids (including those that experience homophobia there) would also select it as the most supportive environment – as well as the “most [whatever]” you care to identify, in any given questionnaire…

#29
Vix5:03 pm, 23 Jan 11

Virgo1972 said :

Andrew Barr might be the Minister for Education and gay, but he’s not a parent. I hope he’s planning a lengthy timeframe for parental consultation prior to any implementation plan as majority approval will take a very long time.

I also object to the word ‘homophobic’. A phobia is a persistant, irrational, innate fear of something. I’ve heard lots of anti-gay comments in my time but i’ve never seen anyone actually have a phobic reaction to a gay or lesbian person. This is a term created by the gay community that is designed to envoke sympathy to an otherwise unworthy cause. I’m very keen to hear others opinions on this.

Perhaps you should look up homophobic in a dictionary…

#30
Eby5:30 pm, 23 Jan 11

Gerry-Built said :

Eby said :

Currently, students in schools who identify as homosexual do not have access to appropriate information, education and support (e.g. on relationships) that other students have.

…just wondering how you figure this is the case?

I’m also wondering what other environments were in the study you mentioned, given that home, and school (and possibly P/T work) would be the most common environments for “young people” to be in. Most kids don’t discuss (their own) sexuality with their parents, and are extremely unlikely to do so should they be aware of any negative feeling surrounding homosexuality from their parents. Work is *not* an appropriate environment to discuss sexual preference etc, which pretty much leaves the only location they frequent – school. As a melting pot of the community, and a place where they spend most of their days – it is just as likely most kids (including those that experience homophobia there) would also select it as the most supportive environment – as well as the “most [whatever]” you care to identify, in any given questionnaire…

Sure, of course it would be due to the fact that most kids spend the majority of time at school. That just reinforces the point I am making; that schools are a key area where we should be progressing these things. Young people that experience homophobia/discrimination in schools are more likely to experience disengagement from school, mental health issues, social isolation, increased use (or possibly abuse) of alcohol and other drugs; and sometimes even suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviours.

In relation to young people not having the same access to appropriate information, education and supports; I ‘figure this to be the case’ because sex education in schools currently focuses on heterosexual relationships, so young gay and lesbian students don’t get adequate access to information or education on safe sex for homosexual relationships. While some young people may have had positive experiences talking to teachers or school counsellors for support, many have identified negative experiences, or a fear of talking to them due to bullying and stigma associated with homophobia.

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