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Diversity tour

Mon 30 May 2011 In: Our Communities View at Wayback View at NDHA

Blake Skjellerup was among those who met Prime Minister John Key last week. Starting June 7th, Olympian Blake Skjellerup and Q-Youth Executive Director Seb Stewart will be heading on a national tour of regional New Zealand high schools. At a recent meeting with the Prime Minister, Stewart and Skjellerup received encouragement from John Key, who is happy to endorse the tour. With support from the Human Rights Commission, PPTA and the Children’s Commissioner, this timely tour promises to deliver a message that is important for all students and staff. Skjellerup will be giving school assembly talks, sharing his personal experience on being an Olympian and his journey to where he is today. "As New Zealand's only out gay professional athlete, Blake is an important role model for youth. Blake's story is really inspiring." said Stewart. "The Government takes the issue of bullying very seriously, and we will continue to work alongside schools to help keep students safe. When I met Blake and Seb, I was impressed by their enthusiasm and their efforts to reduce bullying in schools throughout New Zealand. I wish them all the best," says Prime Minister John Key. In April, Skjellerup gave five high school assembly talks in the Nelson/Tasman region. The response to his talks encouraged Stewart and Skjellerup to organise a nationwide tour. "Blake delivered a simple but powerful message. Having a highly successful athlete address issues around respecting diversity, with a particular focus on homophobia, gives us a great base to make some shifts in our culture." Roger File, Principal, Golden Bay High School, Tasman. “Homophobia and gay bullying in our schools are topical issues that we should no longer ignore. Blake Skjellerup brings credibility to the debate as a young man, as a successful sportsman and with a story of his own school experiences that delivers a powerful message for all,” Rex Smith, Principal, Nayland College, Nelson. The Anti-Bullying and Diversity Tour will be promoting the newly created Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) Network Aotearoa. The aim of the group is to support students all over the country in developing school based diversity groups. “Student led groups are the best way to bring about a culture change from within the school. In Nelson, five out of the six schools now have student led Queer Straight Alliances. That’s where strong leaders in the school, gay and straight, make a public stand against discrimination and bullying. The support of the straight students, especially the boys, is important in setting a culture in which people are valued for who they are,” said Stewart. “The Diversity Group at our school (Waimea Alliance of Gays and Straights), has done significant work to better inform students about gender issues and difference, and is helping create a more inclusive culture,” Larry Ching, Principal, Waimea College, Tasman. "I have seen the support available to the youth in the Nelson region through their diversity groups and it’s invaluable. Adolescence can be a troubling time for many teens, where they often feel very alone and are left very vulnerable. Bullying on top of this some times pushes many youth over the edge, leading them to self harm. This is a situation no young person deserves to be in" said Skjellerup. The tour begins on June 7th. Stewart and Skjellerup will travel from Kaitaia to Invercargill. High Schools are encouraged to visit for more information. Q-Youth - 30th May 2011

Credit: Q-Youth

First published: Monday, 30th May 2011 - 10:18am

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