WA Social Media Campaign Aims to Fight School Homophobia

The New Norm

Brett Hatfield (front, centre) and his team have banded together to form a social media campaign aiming to highlight the lack of support for LGBT students in high schools entitled The New Norm.

Hatfield said he was inspired to start the project by his own experience of high school. “From growing up in high school with actually a little homophobia I realised that it actually made a huge impact because there was no support. Even though there was very little bullying I found that I didn’t actually have any support line at my school with who I was in terms of my sexuality. So I found that going through high school and not knowing who I was, it was actually really difficult and it did affect my studies because I wasn’t able to concentrate when I was going through that confusing time in year eleven and twelve, so when I graduated I tried to speak to the school about it and they said that they were quite wary of promoting homosexuality, so that’s why they weren’t really keen on making forward.

“That was a couple of years ago now and I just was chatting to a couple of friends from high school who also came out after high school had finished but not one of the seven people I spoke to had come out during high school within my school, they came out once high school had finished. So we were talking about it and kinda started the idea that there is this lack of support for LGBTQI students in high school and although there may not be bullying it doesn’t mean that you can just brush things under the carpet. So really when I started talking to some more people about it everyone was interested in getting on board so it started this campaign going.”

The campaign encourages people to take photos of themselves with a personalized sign bearing the words ‘I Am the New Norm Because…’ followed by a statement that reflects their personal means of defying a heteronormative belief system. Hatfield says the campaign has been a labour of love between himself and his hardworking team.

The New Norm 2

“We really wanted people when they created their own quote to display what they’re being a stand for so in saying ‘I am the new norm’ they’re saying ‘I am the new normal in Western Australia because I am this or I do this’ and in saying that they’re just kind of creating this new agreement within Western Australia that this is totally normal and this is totally a normal thing and it’s something that needs to be supported as well.” says Hatfield.

Hatfield says he hopes the campaign on social media will help draw attention to the issue as well as direct young people to their website, which provides information on how schools can create safe spaces for same sex attracted and gender diverse students and links to support services for young LGBTQI people.

“It could be a relay station to people can go to there to get the facts and the knowledge and they can also download the booklets which the Equal Schools Coalition in Victoria created. And they provided light and guidelines in how to create your own school community group which supports the LGBTQI students. So we also provide a bit of information on where to go from there so the schools themselves, we’re really trying to direct them towards the Freedom Centre who will then sign them up to the Equal Schools Coalition of Australia which will guide them more specifically and directly in making their school more supportive in that area. And then we’re also trying to spread the word as well, trying to get the message out there, direct people to the website, make people realise that this is an area that needs to be looked at because there is a severe lack of support and not enough attention is being drawn towards the topic.”

You can find out more about The New Norm on their website or Facebook page.

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