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Fired teacher calls for major changes in schools

Sun 2 Dec 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News

Nigel Studdart Sacked Northland teacher Nigel Studdart says the Education Review Office needs to ensure schools are safe for everyone. “Homophobia does exist in New Zealand. It’s out there. I was really shocked when I saw it,” he said in a rousing keynote address at the National Marriage Equality Conference in Wellington. Studdart was sent packing by the Board of Trustees of Pompallier Catholic College after he supported students who protested their principal’s anti-marriage equality column by wearing rainbow ribbons. He told those gathered at St-Andrews-on-the-Terrace that the Education Review Office (ERO) needs to make “damn sure” that schools are safe for everybody. He also said teachers’ union the PPTA and ERO need to work on the authoritarian atmosphere in schools, saying many of his colleagues told him they supported him but were afraid to speak out. Studdart added that while most teachers are great when it comes to dealing with students, no matter what their ethnicity or sexuality, or whatever, there needs to be professional development for principals and school management teams in the areas of sexuality and gender identity - as they are not likely to be as good one-one-one with students as teachers are. He explained that his own stand came because he felt so strongly about the principal’s assertions in his newsletter column that gay parents were not as good as straight ones. The much-loved teacher has been inundated with thanks and support since he took his stand. “It’s so vital that you stand up and say something, because there are so many people out there who need to hear it,” he finished, and received a standing ovation. You can discuss this gay New Zealand community news story in the Forum here    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 2nd December 2012 - 10:29am

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