This page provides some useful information about what to do if your gay child is being bullied or vilified at school. Despite real advances in addressing diversity in a theoretical way as part of the Health and Physical Education syllabus, gay children (or children perceived to be gay) are still subject to unacceptable behaviours by other children in the school environment.
- Obtain as many specifics as possible from your child (names, dates, words/phrases used, actions of others). Be aware that bullying has become technologically more sophisticated and SMS messages to your child’s mobile phone, emails and websites may be being used in addition to “in person” activities.
- Have your child start a diary recording all instances with details (keep a copy of the diary at home in a safe place).
- Complain to the school in writing (this is important). Include the following in your letter…
- details of the behaviours
- negative impacts of these behaviours on your child and his or her learning
- a reminder that the school has a duty of care to provide your child with a safe environment conducive to learning
- a request that the school take action to prevent any further instance
- Should this not result in the school taking successful action, write again to the school…
- enclose a copy of the first letter and refer to it in your follow-up letter
- point out that the problem has not been fixed
- tell the school that a diary record of the bullying/vilification is being kept
- copy the letter to the Minister for Education (if a state school), the Chairperson of the School Council (if an independent school) or the Diocesan Education Office (if a Catholic School).
- If the response to your written complaint is verbal, for example a phone call, take notes of the conversation and then send a follow-up letter detailing the discussion and the agreed course(s) of action. Make sure you include date and time of the conversation, and the parties involved in the conversation.
It is important that complaints are lodged in writing because you have a record. Schools are more likely to take written complaints seriously. It is not a bad idea to send such letters by registered post.
In particular, the information that a diary is being kept (such diaries can be used as evidence) is likely to galvanise the school into action to deal with the problem.