Schools in the Northern Territories could pave the way for LGBTQI inclusivity under a bold plan that recommends teachers avoid gender-specific language and activities.
Step-by-step guidelines to be introduced in Northern Territory schools will encourage teachers not to label pupils as ‘boys and girls’ as part of a plan designed to boost inclusion.
The main changes were outlined in a leaked draft from the NT Department of Education Sexual, Sexual and Gender Identity Diversity in Schools guidelines published by Sky News on Tuesday.
The document contained recommendations for staff to avoid using gendered language like ‘boys and girls’ and ‘ladies and gents’ as it ‘can be alienating to gender issues and gender diverse children’, according to the publication. .
“Avoid this by using vocabulary such as ‘students’, ‘class’, ‘crew’, ‘everyone’, people’ or ‘year X’ which are more inclusive,” reads the draft.
Schools would also be encouraged not to segregate children based on their gender for sports days as part of a tactic to reduce the withdrawal of transgender and gender-diverse children from sport.
It was recommended that schools implement gender-neutral sports teams and activities instead.
“Many transgender and gender-diverse children often forgo participating in sports and physical activities because they feel very uncomfortable or are pressured into playing teams that do not match their gender identity” , says the draft guidelines.
“Swimming and water activities or any other sport where tight-fitting clothing is worn can be unsettling for children who identify as a gender different from their physical attributes.
Teachers organizing excursions, including overnight camps, would be encouraged to “consult with students, parents and LGBTQI support teams to confirm their preferences” before a trip.
The measure would ensure that every child has access to appropriate personal facilities and would be allowed to sleep in rooms with other children of their declared gender.
Those who want more privacy should also be provided with “reasonable personal facilities and accommodation options, which may include a private bedroom,” the draft reads.
He added that alternative solutions should be sought in the event that a child or their peers indicate that they do not “feel safe and comfortable sharing”, which could suggest the involvement of a “ behavior of possible exclusion and potential intimidation towards the LGBTQI child”.
Teachers were encouraged to have processes like changing children who felt uncomfortable and closely monitoring student interactions to reduce the likelihood of continued bullying.
The project said that educating children and parents about human rights and discrimination was a “good first step in avoiding worry”, while emphasizing that “the safety and well-being of every child is priority”.
News.com.au understands that several of the recommendations outlined in the draft have changed since it was published.
NT Education Minister Lauren Moss, who chose not to discuss the details of the guidelines, said the document was still undergoing the review process.
“I think it’s really important that we create welcoming and inclusive environments for all students and that includes our students who are LGBTQI,” she said, according to Sky News.
“We know that often these students are young people and children who experience higher levels of harm or higher levels of isolation or higher levels of bullying and we need to make sure that we work together as a community school to support all of our students and make sure they all feel welcome.
The country’s Liberal Party Senate candidate, Jacinta Price, criticized the guidelines, saying she was “stunned that the Gunner government is even considering trying to apply a Marxist ideology to our school system here in the Northern Territory”.
“It shows that the priorities of the Northern Territory government are all mixed up,” she said, Sky News reported.
The NT Department of Education has been contacted by news.com.au for comment.