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NZ schools

Mon 14 Aug 2006 In: New Zealand Daily News

New Zealand schools are better off than others around the world in providing a safe environment for LGBTI teachers and students, although more work is needed, says Jo Belgrave, PPTA Regional Chair for Waikato. Belgrave, along with Judie Alison, Advisory Officer with PPTA's national office, and Robin Duff, Junior Vice President of PPTA, presented a workshop on the topic at the recent International LGBT Conference, held in conjunction with the 1st World Out Games in Montreal, Canada. “Listening to speakers from other countries made us aware that, although PPTA Safe Schools Taskforce has much work to do, we are infinitely better off in schools in this country than in many others,” says Belgrave, who was also the Council of Trade Unions Out @ Work representative at the conference. The three representatives presented an update on the PPTA Safe Schools Taskforce, based on a research paper submitted last year at the Schooling and Sexualities Conference held in Melbourne. “Over the years [the Taskforce has] provided practical advice and assistance to New Zealand teachers who are encountering homophobia in their workplace, and [has] supplied resources to principals and Boards of Trustees to assist them to support their teachers,” says Belgrave. The research shows there is “great variation between schools” in New Zealand on the level of support given to LGBTI teachers, “with some schools fully supportive and others clearly having a long way to go,” says Belgrave. “Our argument has always been that a school which provides a safe environment for LGBTI teachers to be out is also a safe place for the students… Students [are] more likely to be out when there [are] visible LGBTI role models on the staff.” Belgrave also attended the plenary panel discussion, which included an address by Labour MP Georgina Beyer. “I can confirm that the speech she made was really outstanding, and a wonderful advertisement for the situation here in New Zealand for members of the LGBTI community.” An earlier report carried by included mention of the School's Out programme, and incorrectly stated that Judie Alison had presented a paper on the programme at the conference. Belgrave notes that the School's Out programme, aimed at combating homophobic bullying in schools, while an important element, is run by Wellington LGBTI youth, and was not part of the workshop run by the PPTA Safe Schools Taskforce.     Ref: (d)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Monday, 14th August 2006 - 12:00pm

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