Gavin, 24, shares his perspective on the open letter signed by 34 headmasters of Sydney Anglican schools.
By now, you might have heard of the open letter signed by 34 headmasters of Sydney Anglican schools. But what was actually in this letter and how does it affect the LGBTQIA+ community within schools?
So what was this letter?
The letter, addressed to all Members of the Federal Parliament, asked the parliament to keep certain provisions in the Sex Discrimination Act that allowed religious schools to remove or expel staff on the basis of LGBTQIA+ status.
This would mean that it’s okay to discriminate on the basis of sexuality and puts gay students and staff at these schools in a very difficult position, concerned that they may be expelled or removed from their position.
The impact of this letter
I have a lesbian sister and many queer friends who attended the schools on this list, so it was incredibly shocking for me to see discrimination so close to home.
While I dealt with homophobia at school, I never thought there was a possibility of me being thrown out of school because of it. Now, LGBTQIA+ students and teachers have had that security taken away from them.
How the letter makes me feel
Since this letter went out, I’ve heard from many LGBTQIA+ teachers fearing they’ll lose their jobs. I’d been hired by some of those schools in the past, so could really understand that fear.
Sure, I get that my fabulous, camp flair isn’t for everyone. But it shouldn’t stop me being accepted by a community, especially one I grew up in.
I love who I love, and that should have nothing to do with where I work, or what schools will accept me.
What I did to make myself feel better
As soon as I saw the letter and list of headmasters, I went to Facebook to talk about my concerns. I thought I was just making a status so some of my friends could be aware of the situation. Instead it went viral and I received overwhelming support.
Actually talking about the issue was super important in helping me feel better about it. If I bottled it all up, I would have felt worse.
One thing I learnt during the Yes campaign last year was to stop reading the negative comments on social media. Instead, surround yourself with positive people and media and hang out with friends who understand what you’re going through.
The LGBTQIA+ community's response
The best thing about this story has been the LGBTQIA+ community’s response. On social media, the response in support of queer people has been really uplifting. It hasn’t just been by those I know who support LGBTQIA+ communities, but also by those I remember as being homophobic in high school.
It’s amazing how many petitions I’ve been asked to sign and marches/walks I’ve been asked to attend in the last week. There’s even been some reply from some of the headmasters of the schools, saying sorry for their own lack of sensitivity promising to grow and learn from this.
The fight may not be over yet, but we must always remember we are a part of a huge supportive community founded on love.
It does get better, people do change and that is something that we must keep reminding our LGBTQIA+ young people.