As the world marks the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, there is more to do in Australian classrooms to create accepting and open spaces for students who are gender and sexually diverse.
University of Southern Queensland College for First Nations lecturer Emerson Zerafa-Payne says policy reform can transform the experience of students who are LGBT+.
Earlier this year, he delivered a keynote address to the Diversity in Education Conference calling for LGBT+ specific policies to be introduced, rather than single diversity policies currently in use in many education settings.
He is also currently undertaking a PhD investigating motivations for policymakers in education.
As an educator, he is championing policy that acknowledges and celebrates LGBT+ people and stories in the classroom and in the curriculum.
“There are a significant number of our children who are gender and sexually diverse, and they need that diversity acknowledged in the classroom and the curriculum,” he said.
“The research shows students do better when they can see themselves in the material they learn from.”
Emerson said implementing additional and specific policy for LGBT+ students would also help those students who may also be navigating cultural needs.
“There are many nuances that come with the intersectionality of being both gender diverse and Aboriginal,” he said.
“When our children or our students come to us and disclose that they are gender questioning or gender diverse, there’s many, many layers. That is even more so for First Nations people.”
Emerson said an inclusive classroom also meant supporting and acknowledging the unique identities of everyone who makes up a school community.
“That means students, staff, parents, families and everyone else that contributes to the education setting,” he said.
University of Southern Queensland will celebrate IDAHOBIT Day on all three campuses with a flag raising ceremony.