Tasmanian gay rights advocates say a social media post from a youth worker and school chaplain that suggests he believes homosexuality is abnormal and a choice is damaging and unprofessional and have called for all youth workers and chaplains to be educated and to be governed by strict guidelines.
On Monday, Troy Williams, a youth worker with Kingborough Council south of Hobart and a chaplain at Hobart College, posted a quote from an American academic on facebook which said “homosexuality is not normal”, “in nature procreation is the single relentless rule”, and “no-one is born gay” (screen shot above).
Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said,
“What the post says to young gay people is that someone they should be able to trust, and who should support them, thinks their sexuality is abnormal, unnatural and a choice.”
“These myths aren’t just wrong, they’re dangerous to the wellbeing of young same-sex attracted people and completely inappropriate coming from someone who works with youth.”
“All youth workers and chaplains, including Troy Williams, must have professional development training in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) issues, which includes sitting down with young LGBTI people and listening to what their lives are really like.”
“There must also be strict guidelines for anyone who works with young people to ensure that same-sex attracted young people are supported and affirmed and that damaging myths and stereotypes are challenged, not perpetuated.”
Mr Croome welcomed comments from the Tasmanian Education Minister, Jeremy Rockliff, the Kingborough Council and the Scripture Union chaplaincy program condemning Mr Williams’ comments. For more click here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-05/school-chaplain-posts-homophobic-comment-on-facebook/5650640
“I am pleased the State Government, the Kingborough Council and the Scripture Union agree that professionals who work with young people need to understand and support same-sex attracted youth, not condemn them.”
“After news of Mr Williams’ post broke I was heartened to received a personal phone call from the Education Minister, Jeremy Rockliff, assuring me he is committed to removing homophobic prejudice from schools and that he is seeking an explanation from the Scripture Union about how it will ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Mr Williams has been ordered to attend a special education forum on LGBTI issues in Hobart next week that will also be attended by other youth workers and school chaplains. The forum will be run by Australia’s leading educator in LGBTI issues, Daniel Witthaus, as part of a week-long series of forums across the state. For more information click here: http://thatssogay.com.au/tasmania-wide-visit/ .
The Scripture Union of Tasmania sponsored a professional development forum for school chaplains in LGBTI issues earlier this year in Launceston and has said it supports more such training across the state.
The academic cited by Mr Williams’ post was Camille Paglia who is in a same-sex relationship but holds famously unorthodox views on homosexuality which Mr Croome said “are contrary to the scientific consensus about sexual orientation”.
“Reputable bodies such as the Australian and American Psychological Societies agree there is nothing unnatural about homosexuality and that sexual orientation cannot be changed at will”, he said.