A new report, commissioned by and released today by the Green Party, shows the Education Review Office (ERO) and the Ministry of Education are seriously failing queer students in secondary schools.
The Green Party report, How Safe Are Our Schools?: An analysis of the Current Policy Framework Aimed at Protecting Queer Young People in New Zealand Secondary Schools highlights a severe lack of support, in some schools, for queer and trans* students.
The report was researched and written by Murray Riches, with the support of Green Party rainbow issues spokesperson, Kevin Hague's office. Mr Riches is a Masters student at the University of Waikato.
“The report shows that some schools are failing to meet even the most minimal requirements for protection and support of queer students,” said Mr Hague.
“Some schools refuse to even accept that they have queer students which is a very unhelpful and archaic attitude. Other schools, even public schools, refused to take part in the study despite their legal obligations.
“Only 33 percent of schools mentioned homophobic bulling in their policy documents. And despite the prevalence of homophobic bullying, only 25 percent of schools reported being aware of it. Worse still, only 8.3 percent of schools demonstrated any awareness of trans* students, and two schools actually self-reported not teaching about gender and sexual diversity.
“How can students be protected if schools don’t even know what is going on in their classrooms and in the school environment?
“In the study, one of the schools which did not teach about gender and sexual diversity and had programmes and policies excluding queer identities was rated positively on ‘inclusion’ by ERO.
“The bigger question is, why is the ERO not picking up on this and why is it endorsing policies that are exclusionary?
“The Ministry of Education needs to step up and look at this issue seriously given the negative impact, on young people, due to the lack of support.
“The Ministry of Education has an obligation to ensure the safety of students at school. Current ERO auditing practices of emotional and physical safety are a complete failure when it comes to queer students.
“The Green Party is committed to helping all queer students feel included in schools.
“We support this report and its recommendations. In government, we will be looking at strengthening the support available and helping schools put in place best practice bullying prevention for all students,” said Mr Hague.
The report can be found at: https://home.greens.org.nz/saferschools