Queer rights groups are initiating a high school referendum against homophobia and for same-sex marriage rights over August 2-6.
Planned to help build the August 14 National Day of Action for equal marriage rights, the referendum will be a chance for students to discuss homophobia and how to combat it in their school.
There are high levels of homophobia and prejudice in high schools. In Australia, 68% of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and inter-sex (LGBTI) people experience homophobia in school.
Thirty percent of gay youth attempt suicide, far above the rate of suicide attempts for heterosexuals. Queer youth are six times more likely to kill themselves than their straight counterparts. Action on homophobia is urgently required in high schools.
For young people, homophobia and bigotry are matters of life and death. The federal Labor government has exacerbated homophobia by refusing to lift the ban on same-sex marriage, created in 2004. This sends a clear message that LGBTI people are second-class citizens.
Socialist youth organisation Resistance, High Schools Against Homophobia and other LGBTI rights groups are working together to organise the referendum.
It is hoped that many more organisations will endorse the referendum and be a contact point for the action. Resource packs will be provided to any interested students to help them organise the referendum in their high school.
The referendum will call on high schools to become homophobia-free zones, conduct anti-bigotry programs and support the same-sex marriage campaign.
[For more information, visit www.resistance.org.au, or call Stewart on 0419 330 750 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0419 330 750 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, Kate on 0406 517 246, or Karl on 0438 108 691.]