Tasmanian leaders in education, anti-discrimination and child rights have defended a new school anti-bullying program.

Earlier the year several religious figures including Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, John Harrower, and Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous, wrote to all principals and school associations condemning the Safe Schools Coalition.

Safe Schools is a federally funded program designed to reduce levels of prejudice and bullying on the grounds of sexuality and gender identity.

In response a letter supporting the program has been sent to all principals and school associations.

Among the signatories are Jenny Eddington, President of the Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations, Terry Polglase, President of the Australian Education Union (Tasmanian branch), Michelle Fay, Manager of Headspace Hobart, Mark Morrissey, Tasmanian Commissioner for Children, Robin Banks, Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner and Mathew Rowell, CEO, Relationships Australia (Tasmania).

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, who also signed the letter, said,

“It’s unfortunate that misinformation is being spread about the Safe Schools Coalition.”

“The program, as it will be implemented in Tasmania, has no sexual content, does not favour one group of students over another, and is no different to programs that have been implemented in Tasmania for 20 years, except that it is better funded.”

“Safe Schools is about training teachers so they have the skills and information they need to effectively challenge class room prejudice and bullying.”

“The focus of the Program is prejudice based on sexuality and gender, which accounts for 50% of school bullying according to the Department of Education’s own guidelines.”

“When teachers and parents get accurate information about the Safe Schools Coalition I think their response will be ‘about time’.”

A copy of the original letter, as well as the letter defending the program are attached.

A news report on the letters can be found here: http://www.examiner.com.au/story/2946520/anger-over-anti-gay-letter/?cs=95

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