***** MEDIA RELEASE *****
22 MARCH 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LEADING ACTIVISTS & STARS OF LGBTIQ COMMUNITY WRITE OPEN LETTER CALLING ON CORPORATIONS TO SPEAK UP IN SUPPORT OF SAFE SCHOOLS
MORE THAN 150 PEOPLE SIGN LETTER
RECENT US STUDY FINDS SAFE SCHOOLS CURBS ALCOHOL ABUSE AMONGST ALL STUDENTS
Much-loved cabaret star Paul Capsis and Australia’s first openly gay newsreader – media personality Geoff Field – have joined marriage equality activist and former PFLAG national president, Shelley Argent OAM, and Scott Sharrad, the President of the Council of Australian Humanist Societies, in putting their names to an open letter calling on corporate Australia to speak out in support of Safe Schools.
More than 100 people have put their names to the open letter, including veteran gay broadcaster and journalist Doug Pollard, Community Brave foundation founder, Rami Mandow, Rodney Chiang-Cruise from Gay Dads Australia, and ALEPH Melbourne Jewish LGBTI support group convener, Michael Barnett.
The open letter has been sent to 20 corporate sponsors and partners of Mardi Gras and Midsumma and is attached below in full along with the names of all of those who support it.
The open letter originated from a personal Facebook post which went viral over the weekend and calls on the corporate sponsors and supporters of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras and the Midsumma festival in Melbourne to join the LGBTIQ community and their allies in speaking up in support of the Safe Schools program.
The original Facebook post has attracted over 500 likes and other reactions, and almost 175 shares as well as scores of comments.
In related news, recent research published in the USA in the past four weeks also shows that Safe Schools programs have far-reaching positive effects across the whole community.
The study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that both heterosexual and gay/lesbian students report less binge alcohol consumption when living in states or cities that have greater proportions of schools with programs and policies that support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
AN OPEN LETTER ON SAFE SCHOOLS TO THE SPONSORS & CORPORATE SUPPORTERS OF MARDI GRAS & MIDSUMMA
To: ANZ, Qantas, Telstra, NAB, Coles, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Jetstar, IBM, AGL, Canon, AirBnB, Star City Casino, NRL, Medibank Private, PwC, Seek, GoGet, Coopers, LUSH Cosmetics
Dear friends of the LGBTIQ community,
For some years now your companies have been providing either sponsorship or support to some of our major yearly festivals such as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and the Midsumma Festival in Melbourne.
We understand your desire to show your support for us, for a cohesive workplace is a productive workplace.
But our friends in your midst have families too, and they include young children at school.
Right now the Federal Government has attacked the Safe Schools program that was established to protect them and provide a safe and nurturing place for them.
These are the children of your employees and executives. They are the raison d’être of your workforce.
We call on you to join with us and decry the forces that are attacking us, attacking your workforce and ultimately your productivity.
We are aware that some of the leaders of your corporations are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex. We are also aware that some of you have previously publicly voiced your support on issues such as marriage equality.
We now ask that you lend your voices to this important issue. We ask that you lend your names to sign this open letter.
We ask that you join us in calling for the Safe Schools program to continue unchanged in its current form and for the program to be funded federally for years to come, not diluted and defunded completely as the Federal Government plans to do by next year.
Just as you are proud to support Mardi Gras or Midsumma publicly, we ask that you join us in a chorus of support for Safe Schools, a program that saves the lives of young LGBTIQ children and perhaps does more to benefit young lives than any festival.
You will also no doubt be aware of some of the disgraceful homophobic and transphobic attacks and vitriol heaped upon the LGBTIQ community in recent weeks, including from senior federal politicians.
These attacks have hurt children immensely and have been a major setback for the LGBTIQ community on the march to full equality.
As you are committed to equality we understand that you will realise the urgency of this call.
Shelley Argent OAM, former PFLAG national president, mother of gay son
Beth Delbridge, PFLAG member
Paul Capsis, cabaret star
Geoff Field, Australia’s first openly gay newsreader
Scott Sharrad, President, Council of Australian Humanist Societies Inc.
Michael Barnett, ALEPH Melbourne
Rodney Chiang-Cruise, Gay Dads Australia
Rami Mandow, Community Brave foundation
Australian Transgender Support Association Queensland
Ashley Bonnell, convener, Rainbow Labor Queensland
Lyn Eales, youth projects coordinator, SSAFE in the South West (Victoria) Project
Karl Hand, pastor, Metropolitan Community Church
Dr. Gávi Ansara, LGBTI health researcher
Doug Pollard, gay broadcaster, journalist & blogger
Chrys Stevenson, writer & skeptic
William Brougham, journalist
Serkan Ozturk, founder, PR 4 The People & journalist
Ron Van Houwelingen
Karin Angelika Gottschalk
Jason Peter Masters
Murray W Downie
Peter T Morris
Dr. James Ntoumenopoulos BDSc.
Brielle Sage Twelftree
Thomas Castiana Sahal Vagonbrei
Jordan James Alcock
Lila Gracie O’Rourke
E. J. Boulton
Dino Di Felice
Jacques De Vere
Sheree Stark Rudder