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Community engagement

Creating rainbow-inclusive schools

Posted: 
Monday, 9 Sep 2019

A nationwide organisation is helping schools become safer and more inclusive for young people who identify as part of the rainbow community.

Research in New Zealand and overseas has shown that these young people are more likely to experience bullying and mental health issues. InsideOUT is working with schools to build their awareness and understanding of sexuality and gender diversity, and help them become more inclusive environments. 

Tabby Besley, InsideOUT’s managing director, believes that encouraging children to be inclusive and accepting of diversity should start from a young age. 

“It can be as simple as having conversations about diversity, acknowledging diverse families and challenging gender norms and stereotypes,” says Tabby.

“Small actions like not making a class separate into boys and girls, or making an effort to address students with gender-neutral language, or by their chosen name and pronoun, can make a huge difference to rainbow students” says Tabby. Sometimes it can be the difference between whether they feel able to complete their schooling or not.

Other recommendations for improving things for rainbow young people include:

  • ensuring all staff undertake professional development training
  • looking at ways to address homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and responding appropriately when it happens
  • including adequate information about rainbow young people in sexuality education
  • recognising rainbow young people’s leadership. 

“Never underestimate the power of what you can do – either as a school community or as an individual staff member – to make a difference to young people.” 

A helpful resource has been developed for schools. The LGBTIQA+ guide aims to supports school leaders and teachers to plan with diversity and inclusion in mind, to understand and give visibility to LGBTIQA+ students, to examine gender roles and norms, but not to teach or promote a specific view.  It was developed in consultation with representatives of principals, teachers and the LGBTIQA+ community.

Find out more about creating inclusion for rainbow young people, and the issues they face, in The Education Gazette 98/13.

For more about InsideOUT’s professional development workshops (also available to organisations and workshops), contact tabby@insideout.org.nz

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