Australia’s first openly-LGBTI head of government Andrew Barr has a message for young people who may be struggling with their own sexuality or gender identity: There is nothing wrong with you.
“Let me make some clear and definitive statements. It is OK to be gay, it is OK to be lesbian, it is OK to be bisexual or intersex, there is nothing wrong with you,” he told the ACT Parliament yesterday in a passionate defence of the embattled Safe Schools program.
“You are not abnormal, you do not deserve to be discriminated against.”
The Chief Minister also condemned the “Neanderthal conservatives” who would tell LGBTI kids otherwise.
Dr Kerryn Phelps summed up exactly why we need Safe Schools on last weeks Q&A:
The Safe Schools program is currently operating in 23 Canberra schools, around a quarter of those in the ACT.
It’s purpose is to reduce the homophobic and transphobic bullying faced by many young people, which Barr described as “heartbreaking”.
“These are some of the most vulnerable kids in this city and in this country and they are going to have no stronger advocate than me and this government,” he said.
“Why? Because I know a little about what it’s like to be gay, to be in the closet and to suffer bullying and discrimination in a school and an education setting in this city. All I can say is thank god a lot has changed from 1980s and early 1990s till now.”
Here he is holding a puppy in front of a framed picture of Paul Keating drinking a VB:
Barr was responding to a motion to support the program by Labor MLA Jayson Hinder, who claimed its positive effects went far beyond school walls “towards the very kind of society that we as Canberrans want to build.”
“Our message to LGBTI kids [is] that they are fine, we support them and there is nothing wrong with them and don’t let any Neanderthal conservative tell you anything otherwise,” Barr added.
“Your rights and your feelings matter to us”.