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Safe and inclusive schools

Posted by Merv McCormack on 14 June 2017

Years ago, indeed last century, Adam, a Yr. 12 boy asked to meet me in my Office. It was a meeting I've never forgotten. I taught him in his HSC studies, and I knew a little of his story. He was a gentle boy, creative, a likable and sensitive sort of soul.

Halfway through our meeting, as the conversation seemed to be drifting to a close, he simply said: "I'm gay". We both paused for several minutes before he asked, "Do you know how hard it is being gay in this [all boys'] school?  

Do you think I've chosen to be this way? I've been like this for as long as I can remember ever since I was a little boy".

It was the start of dialogue with key staff around school climate, and how we as a Christian school could and should raise collective awareness and demonstrate greater respect for all members of the College body.

I like to believe that through that young man's honesty (and bravery), it made some sort of difference. I don't know where Adam is these days. I hope he is happy. I hope he lives in a community of greater inclusiveness than his schooling days provided. 

In that same spirit, I share with you two attachments, developed by Edmund Rice Education Australia. 

At least three of the Five Core Principles of Lasallian schools [and works] speak to such concerns:

Principle 2: CONCERN FOR THE POOR AND SOCIAL JUSTICE: The Lasallian school [and works] calls its members to a solidarity with the poor and victims of injustice. It calls all to a life-long commitment to respond to their needs through programs of community service, advocacy, and justice education.     

Principle 4: RESPECT FOR ALL PERSONS:  The Lasallian school [and works] engages its members in a concerted effort to respect the dignity of all persons. It calls all to respect-filled relationships as the heart of Lasallian education and a key expression of their identity as children of God.

Principle 5: INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY:  The Lasallian school [and works] is a united community where diversity is respected and no one is left out or left behind. It calls all to recognise and embrace one another's unique stories and qualities as unique and sacred features of the Body of Christ on earth.

Fr Noel Connolly SSC writes:  "Our world is at times dark. There is much fear, injustice, dishonesty, violence, prejudice and propaganda our Christian vocation is firstly never to add to the darkness to be as peaceful, just, merciful and friendly as we can be to make the world a radically different and more joyful place" I hope our schools and works are more this way than ever before, and that we always remember that our works and lives speak more powerfully than anything we say.

Available resources

Live Life to the Full: Resources for Principals, School Leaders & Teachers

EREA Safe & Inclusive Learning Communities Statement 

 

 

Author: Merv McCormack
About: Merv is the Executive Director of the Lasallian Mission Council.
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