Article Title:Act now to keep schools safe for all students!
Category:Comment
Author or Credit:Judie Alison
Published on:15th March 2004 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
Story ID:171
Text:As the right-wing Maxim organisation gears up to swamp forthcoming school board elections with their kind of people, the PPTA's Judie Alison urges us to fight back for the safety of all students, including the gay and lesbian ones. The Maxim Institute, which opposes human rights for gay people, are very well organised when it comes to getting people of their persuasion into key positions. Their website, www.maxim.org.nz , contains the following advice to their supporters: “In New Zealand we have a plethora of elected positions of community leadership. From School Trustees, to Community Boards to our National Parliament, we have a democratic system that is rich in opportunities. If you're not happy with the direction that our country is heading then why not play a part in leading the change? It is imperative that people of character and conviction step forward en masse to lead our schools, communities and government. Maxim Institute provides training, contacts and support for people making that step into elected positions.” School Boards of Trustees are an important target right now. Nominations are open now, and close on 19 March, and polls close on 2 April. Now is the time to act if you want to stop your local Board of Trustees being stacked with fundamentalist Christians who will: resist the school celebrating diversity, including diversity of sexualities; fight against quality open-minded sexuality education in the school; seek to have banned from the school library or subject resources anything which presents non-heterosexual viewpoints and lifestyles as positive; demand to have religious expression (as long as it's Christian and their kind of Christianity) upfront in schools; make life hell for any queer teachers, students or families in the school. Don't let them do it! Anyone may stand for election to a school Board of Trustees, you do not need to be a parent or caregiver of a student at the school. (On the other hand, if you're not a parent or caregiver you wouldn't be able to vote for yourself.) Consider standing yourself, to increase the diversity quotient of the Board. Each school will have appointed a Returning Officer – just contact the school and ask for the nomination form. You'll be surprised how easy it is to get elected; lots of Boards struggle to get as many nominations as there are places, which is why Maxim sees them as ripe for the plucking. If you are a parent, when voting forms come out make sure you check the credentials of the people standing. Any sniff of Maxim Institute or the like, don't give them your vote, and make sure other parents you know vote equally carefully. PPTA has done a heap of work on what needs to be done to make schools safe and welcoming places for students and teachers whatever their sexuality. PPTA's website www.ppta.org.nz contains material via Issues/Safe Schools, including Guidelines for Boards of Trustees, first published in 2001. These have been ignored by many Boards, and they will be ignored by even more if Maxim has its way. On the other hand, there are some schools which are making a real effort. If your kids' school is one of them, let them know how much you appreciate it, because they are more likely to get the brickbats than the bouquets. Judie Alison - 15th March 2004    
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