TEACHERS are being accused of bullying gay and lesbian students and condoning similar behaviour in Queensland schools, which have been found to be more homophobic than in any other state.
One Brisbane religious school student was allegedly told by male teachers last year she would burn in hell, while a boy had excrement wiped on his bag by students who believed he was gay.
A university study has found Queensland has the most homophobic schools in the country, with more than 80 per cent of gay and lesbian students reporting bullying.
It comes as pressure builds on the State Government to introduce a policy actively preventing homophobia in schools. Queensland is the only state which doesn’t have, or isn’t developing, a policy, according to a researcher.
Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett warned yesterday that bullying of gay and lesbian students was a “real and present issue for young people in our schools”.
His comments were in response to concerns raised by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays-Brisbane about Queensland students being bullied.
The group’s president Donna Goddard cited two specific incidences involving girls being bullied by teachers in religious schools recently and one of students at a state school, where teachers said they did not know how to help those being bullied.
The group has gone to the Department of Education, Training and Employment to seek help for students.
DETE did not respond to questions last night.
Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates said while he had never heard of an instance of a teacher bullying a gay or lesbian student, teachers hadn’t been provided with professional development on dealing with students bullying others on the basis of sexuality. He said the union was planning to develop training for its members on the issue.
University of New England (UNE) School of Education researcher Dr Tiffany Jones, who did her PhD on a state breakdown of school statistics collected for a UNE and La Trobe University study, found more than 80 per cent of 581 Queensland gay and lesbian students reported bullying in schools across all sectors, including by teachers.
“There was name-calling by teachers, there was tolerance of student bullying,” she said.
Dr Jones said the incidence was higher in religious schools, but she was aware of cases involving Government schools currently before courts.
Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said bullying in any form was ” unacceptable, which is why Queensland leads the rest of Australia in the fight against bullying in our schools.
“Queensland has more than twice the number of students taking part in the National Day of Action Against Bullying than any other state or territory.
“The fact that we’re proactive with our involvement in the national conversation about bullying is a sign that we are taking it seriously and taking action to address it.”