On Tuesday 19 February 2019 the Anglican Schools Commission hosted the Optimising education and mental health outcomes with gender and sexuality diverse youth in schools workshop with presenter Olivia Donaghy.
Olivia Donaghy is Coordinator of the Queensland Children’s Gender Service, focusing on supporting people with diverse sexuality and/or gender expression, including living non-binary, those experiencing gender incongruence or those seeking medical treatments for gender dysphoria.
Olivia’s presentation consisted of three parts:
- Understanding gender diversity
- How diversity in gender impacts education and mental health outcomes and the role of inclusive practice
- Developing Policy/Guidelines that support inclusive practice
The day was tailored for professionals working with school aged young people who have a role in promoting and/or responding to mental health and wellbeing. Heads of schools, Chairs of councils and other key school staff, including guest executive staff from the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association, attended.
As educators, we know that young people do better at school and in life if they attend schools where they feel welcome and safe. Schools need to be safe and inclusive places for all students, regardless of their sexuality, gender, cultural background, disability or other circumstances. The Anglican Schools Commission hosted this forum as we are specifically interested in how schools can provide safer and more inclusive environments for gender diverse students.
Many Anglican schools are already being proactive in ensuring students have safe and inclusive school environments, and other schools may be on that journey. We are facilitating a collaborative process to create guidelines for our schools, ensuring that all students’ emotional wellbeing and social health, as well as their engagement in learning and school activities, is prioritised. A school that celebrates diversity benefits everyone.
Bishop Jeremy Greaves’ Prayer on the day ~
the world you gave us is so diverse
that its complexities may never be unravelled,
so extravagant that it’s riches may never be spent,
and so extraordinary that we find it a constant source of amazement.
Yet when we come to people, we expect it all to be simple.
As if everyone made in your image should look and act the same.
God of many faces,
help us rejoice in our diversity,
to be prepared to be understanding about other people’s complexities,
to be generous in our dealings with others
and to be amazed at the new revelations you give us each day.
We cannot all agree about everything – that would be unrealistic –
but we can follow the pattern set by Jesus,
who accepted all who were prepared to take up his cross
and be obedient to your will.
Understanding and all knowing God,
as we travel this road together,
keep our minds open and our hearts united,
so that barriers fall and images fade
as we join in the work of your kingdom.