‘I Just Want to Be Myself’: How We Can Challenge Homophobia, Transphobia, and Racism in Australian Schools

Drawing on the experiences of Safe Schools Coalition in Australia since 2010, this article focuses on the potential for successfully challenging homophobia, transphobia, and racism in schools.

The discussion challenges assumptions about the incompatibility of cultural difference with gender or sexual diversity, in particular the perceived irreconcilability of Islamic faith or culture with same-sex attraction. Comparing research on the health impact of homophobia and transphobia on students with the impact of racism provides the basis for a discussion of the benefits of challenging all forms of prejudice-based abuse and discrimination.

While there are some key differences, the methods and strategies used in schools to value and support cultural diversity can also be applied in schools to support gender and sexual diversity. Lessons from the practice experiences of Safe Schools Coalition suggest that all forms of diversity can and do positively interact to create more inclusive educational environments.