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‘Non-Heterosexual Youth, a profile of their health and well-being’

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    ‘Non-Heterosexual Youth, a profile of their health and well-being’ - 18-Feb-2005
    A new study shows 9 percent of non-heterosexual students do not feel safe at school, with a further 25 percent feeling safe only ‘sometimes’.
    Youth organisation Out There said the information was taken from an analysis of non-heterosexual respondents’ data in the Youth 2000 survey, which covered 114 schools.

    The study also showed 13 percent of non-heterosexual students were bullied at least once a week.

    Out There launched the study today along with a kit for safety in schools.

    Out There spokesperson Sarah Helm said the kit provides schools with a positive model to deal with homophobic bullying.

    “We knew from experience that non-heterosexual students were facing harassment and bullying, but the study confirms the extent of the issue.”

    “It is unacceptable that any young person should feel unsafe attending school.”

    Homophobic bullying affects gay and straight students because bullies also target straight students who do not fit gender stereotypes.

    “Bullying makes a profound and lasting dent in the self-esteem of young people.

    “Schools have to take responsibility for ensuring their students’ safety.”

    It is important for the health, well-being, and educational performance of students that school is considered a safe place, she said.

    “I have heard horror stories about the victims of bullying being asked to leave their school to solve the problem.

    “Meanwhile other schools are doing fantastic work around inclusion and countering bullying.”

    The kit would help iron out the inconsistencies between schools by arming them with information and support.

    "Schools have a legal obligation to ensure all students are safe, but we know that they need support to do it," Ms Helm said, "which is what this resource provides."

    Transgender Labour MP Georgina Beyer hosted the launch at Parliament.

    Other Comments

    Bryden Southee, queer student:
    “Someone in my class mentioned something about being gay. My woodwork teacher came up and said ‘being gay is a bit wrong’. I was in the forth form. He brought up God and the Bible a lot even though it was a state school, which isn’t meant to be religious."

    Stephen Denekamp, Rainbow Youth (Phone: 021 529 778)
    “Homophobia is still an issue within New Zealand schools. It occurs on both a small and large scale. I doubt whether there is any student in this country who hasn't heard the derogatory phrase, "that's so gay" around their school grounds. Such comments, and other greater degrees of bullying, affect everyone. They create a school environment that supports discrimination and carries fear. Such environments do not help students - our rangatahi, our next generation - reach their full potential.”

    “Many schools do want to take a proactive role in affirming diversity. However, there is a lack of current teacher resources that address queer issues in schools. The 'Safety in our Schools' resource is an excellent start to addressing the lack of knowledge.”

    “Homophobia, like any form of discrimination, attacks our self esteem. It is incredibly important for young people to receive positive messages about who they are. Schools have an obligation to provide this to both their students and staff.”

    “I want to see all our schools be places where students and staff can be who they are. Where they are free from discrimination and can learn, grow and achieve. I think such a goal is very achievable if we start working together and it's time that we did.”

    Simon Harger-Forde, National President, NZAAHD (New Zealand Association for Adolescent Health & Development).
    “NZAAHD supports people who work with young people, and seeks to advance the positive youth development approach across sectors. Young people’s positive connection to their school environment is integral to positive youth development. NZAAHD is committed to creating opportunities to support those who work in schools to encourage supportive and inclusive environments for all young people. For queer young people this will require specific effort to counter homophobia in schools.”

    “NZAAHD affirms OUT THERE! for Safety in Our Schools. It is a brilliant resource that effectively sets the current situation in context. It challenges us, with examples and thoughts from young people, to take action and make our schools better places for queer young people.”

    Stevie Wildewood, lesbian high school student:
    "School's have a tremendous influence on their students. They need to start letting their kids know that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender isn't abnormal, for their emotional and sexual well-being.”
    Ref: - OUT There - NZAF

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