Article Title:Students speak out
Author or Daily News staff
Published on:6th October 2011 - 12:04 pm
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Story ID:10876
Text:One of the students speaking at today's Queer Our Schools rally in Wellington says his school tries to make him wear a skirt to formal functions and refuses to give him a locker because it will be covered with transphobic graffiti. Student Ryan Shaddix will tell those who gather following a march from the Ministry of Education building to Midland Park that he believes education is a human right. "I have the right to an education suited to my needs and on my terms, teaching me the things that I need to know," he says. "Sadly, that's not what I'm getting. As a man I'm not okay with being made to wear a skirt at formal school functions and I'm not okay that my school won't give me a locker, because they think I bring it on myself when transphobic insults are scratched onto it." The group will gather at 4:30pm at the Ministry of Education on 45-47 Pipitea St in a demonstration that follows on from Queer The Night, a rally to claim back the streets which led to the formation of the group The Queer Avengers, which is organising the protest. Among other things, they are demanding that the Ministry provide support for the development of student and community led Queer-Straight Alliances in every school throughout the country; making all schools accessible to transgendered, queer and gender-variant students through providing flexible dress codes and non-gendered bathrooms; and incorporating sexuality and gender diversity into school subjects such as history, science, health and English. "Our demands should not come as a surprise, in fact it's long over-due; the ministry has consecutively failed, year after year, in its legal care-of-duty to provide safe and affirming environments for their students," says one of the protest organisers Kassie Hardendorp. "Since 2007 the Ministry has known that 33 per cent of queer youth face bullying on the basis of their identity and that 20 per cent of queer youth will make at least one attempt on their own life, a rate fivetimes higher than heterosexual students. A decimation is literally 1 in 10. This is 1 in 5." Shaddix says the Queer Our Schools campaign is getting a lot of support from within schools, saying "teachers from my school are going to be at the demonstration today and agree with me that the current environment is not okay". Another student who will speak tonight is Victoria Bell, who bemoans the fact she had to Google "famous gay people" because she didn't know any older queer people to teach her about gay history. "I wish that my school realised that the only way to change our bullying culture is to teach that all differences are normal and incorporate them into the curriculum," she says. The Ministry of Education has already made contact with The Queer Avengers to discuss its Queer Our Schools campaign. Daily News staff - 6th October 2011    
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