Last night, I had the privilege of joining a group of student leaders from my school at the launch of “Stand Out: Against Homophobia in Schools” – a resource developed by Minus 18’s Micah Scott and the Safe School’s Coalition of Victoria’s Roz Ward.
The 32-page resource is written by students for students and involves practical ways for students to create safe school environments for same-sex attracted and gender questioning young people.
Roz Ward has been out to our school to speak to a larger group of students and her reflection on the resource was that “this is very much a realistic guide of things you can do if you’re a student in a school in Victoria, what the barriers might be and helpful hints and tips.”
“At the moment there’s nothing like it really directed at students that’s based on real-life student experiences in Australian schools “Often students feel like they’re the first people to have ever done something, so [the guide is] the first step in creating a community of student activists in school who are challenging homophobia.”
As Coordinator for Student Leadership at my College, it has been a huge inspiration to work with students in building their capacity to – paraphrasing Gandhi – lead the change that they wish to see in the world. In what started as a comment posted in frustration on Facebook, a ground-swell of positive action has seen the development of a whole-college approach to the issue of homophobia in our College environment.
The students have organised staff Professional Development, they have sourced posters, stickers, etc to help promote interest. They have garnered the support of junior students so that the program can perpetuate itself over the years – long after the founders have graduated and moved on in the world.
This kind of action defines the idea of Student Voice. Rather than telling students how they can have a say, these students have found their voice and with minimal support, have begun to produce real change.