Wellington group aims to Queer our Schools

Press Release – Queer the Night Collective

Today at 4:30pm at the Ministry of Education on 45-47 Pipitea St. in Wellington, The Queer Avengers will be launching its “Queer our Schools” campaign.

Wellington group aims to Queer our Schools
Today at 4:30pm at the Ministry of Education on 45-47 Pipitea St. in Wellington, The Queer Avengers will be launching its “Queer our Schools” campaign.

Among other things, they are demanding that the Ministry provide support for the development of student and community led Queer-Straight Alliances in every school throughout the country; making all schools accessible to transgendered, queer and gender-variant students through providing flexible dress codes and non-gendered bathrooms; and incorporating sexuality and gender diversity into school subjects such as history, science, health and English. A full list of demands can be found on the website < thequeeravengers.org.nz>.

Kassie Hardendorp, one of the organisers of the demonstration says, “Our demands should not come as a surprise, in fact its long over-due; the ministry *has* consecutively failed, year after year, in its legal care-of-duty to provide safe and affirming environments for their students. Since 2007 the Ministry has known that 33% of queer youth face bullying on the basis of their identity and that 20% of queer youth will make at least one attempt on their own life, a rate 5 times higher than heterosexual students. A decimation is literally 1 in 10. This is 1 in 5”.

Ryan Shaddix, one of the school-aged youth who will be speaking at today’s demonstration says, “Education is a human right. I have the right to an education suited to my needs and on my terms, teaching me the things that I need to know. Sadly, that’s not what I’m getting. As a man I’m not okay with being made to wear a skirt at formal school functions and I’m not okay that my school won’t give me a locker, because they think I bring it on myself when transphobic insults are scratched onto it”.

Victoria Bell, another of the school-aged youth speaking at today’s demonstration says, “I wish that I didn’t have to Google “famous gay people” because I didn’t know any older queer people to teach me about our history. I wish that my school realised that the only way to change our bullying culture is to teach that all differences are normal and incorporate them into the curriculum”.

The Queer our Schools campaign is getting a lot of support from within schools says Ryan, noting that “teachers from my school are going to be at the demonstration today and agree with me that the current environment is not okay”.

Kassie also notes that the Ministry of Education has already taken an interest in the campaign saying, “The first goal of this demonstration has already been achieved. The Ministry of Education has already made contact with The Queer Avengers looking to discuss the demands we are raising today”.

Looking towards the long-term Kassie concludes “If we are going to challenge the queer oppression we face on a daily basis we need to stand together as a community and demand it. While we may now be legal now, we’re certainly not accepted and valued as equals. The work taken up so urgently during the homosexual law reform campaign continues to be needed today”.

After delivering a set of demands to the Ministry of Education, the group is going to march to Midland Park on Lambton Quay for speeches and live music.

The Queer Avengers is the political action group that formed out of the Queer the Night march that took place in June in Wellington.

ENDS

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