Advocates commend government rejection of Latham’s education bill

LGBTQIA+ advocates are celebrating the end of a bill put forward by NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham targeting trans and gender diverse young people, as the state government release a report outlining their opposition to the legislation.

The report from NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell lists four reasons the Perrottet Government will not support the legislation, highlighting that many aspects of the bill are enacted through current legislation and practice, while others are operationally impossible such as “defining a coherent set of community ‘core values’ agreed upon by all parents”.

Jack Whitney, Convenor of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL), says the One Nation’s Education Bill sought to attack the wellbeing of students and teachers in our schools.

“We came together as a community to say no against discriminating against trans and gender diverse students by denying their existence and preventing social workers, counsellors and teachers to support them. Thank you to all the advocates and community members in what was a hard fought campaign”.

NSWGLRL led the effort to creating a joint statement against the bill early in its history. The joint statement was a diverse group of community and civil society organisations in NSW, from the Teacher’s Federation, NSWCCL, NCOSS, Youth Action, ACON and more.

Last year, Whitney presented evidence and testimony with Twenty10 and Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth on the dangerous and harmful Education Bill proposed by Latham.

“We know the evidence – this bill does nothing to improve educational outcomes and removing bullying in our schools. It deliberately attacks teachers and LGBTIQ+ students, particularly trans and gender diverse students,” Whitney stated.

“Supporting fair and equal access to education to all children is not negotiable. Every child in NSW should have the opportunity to reach their full potential in a welcoming environment. Every student should be able to sit side-by-side with their peers in the class room without fear of discrimination. All students should feel at ease and belonging in their school. All students, no matter who they are, deserve respect and dignity.”

“Mark Latham and One Nation don’t represent the NSW Community. One Nation sought to divide our state. But we said no. We are proud of what we have been able to achieve here today, but the fight doesn’t end here”, Whitney said.

National LGBTQIA+ advocacy group Equality Australia are also happy to see the back of the bill.

“Every child deserves a quality education in a school where they have a place and feel valued,” said Ghassan Kassisieh, Legal Director of Equality Australia.

“The LGBTIQ+ community in New South Wales will breathe a little easier today, as the NSW Government has stood up to One Nation’s bullying of trans and gender diverse kids, affirming their right to connect, succeed and thrive at school.”

ACON’s acting director for Community Health and Wellbeing, the sole trans person invited to give evidence at the bill’s committee hearings, commended the Perrottet Government for their decision.

“All children flourish and succeed when they are affirmed and supported for who they are,” Cook said.

“It’s fantastic to see the NSW government today stand by trans kids and their families, who already face so many barriers, and experience disproportionate levels of bullying and harassment.

“Trans kids already experience extremely concerning negative mental health impacts, as we see in research findings all over the world. One Nation’s Bill would only have made schools less safe for trans students, and placed lives at risk.”

OIP Staff

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