One year on from marriage equality, ReachOut calls on religious schools to show their support for young LGBTIQ+ people

14 Nov 2018
On the anniversary of marriage equality in Australia, frontline youth mental health service ReachOut is calling on religious schools to declare zero tolerance of discrimination against LGBTIQ+ students and teachers.

ReachOut CEO Ashley de Silva, said that the anniversary of marriage equality in Australia is an opportunity to celebrate, but also to continue work to end all discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people.

“Today ReachOut is proud to celebrate the anniversary of when close to 8 million Australians voted ‘Yes’ in favour of marriage equality.”

“This time last year ReachOut, with so many others, celebrated the resounding ‘Yes’ vote and called on Australians to unite and end the negativity.”

ReachOut saw last year’s survey cause significant distress, with a 40 percent spike in the number of young people seeking help from its online service during the postal survey.

Reflecting on the year that’s been, Mr de Silva said it’s clear things are changing and noted reporting that more than 5,000 same-sex marriages had been celebrated around the country.

“Disappointingly, more recently we have seen a number of religious schools write to Federal parliamentarians asking for legislation to remain that allows discrimination against students and staff based on their LGBTIQ+ status”, Mr de Silva said.

“At the moment young LGBTIQ+ people at religious schools across Australia are understandably asking if their school is a safe space.”

“Religious schools must take steps to ensure their policies are not placing the mental health of their students at risk.

"Today ReachOut is asking each and every religious school in Australia to send a message to their students that their school is a safe space with a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination.”

“We know the negative impacts of discrimination on the mental health of young LGBTIQ+ people are real”, Mr de Silva said.

“We also know that one of the most difficult times for young people is the time between identifying as LGBTIQ+ and taking the decision to come out. This is often happens when young people are at school.”

“On the anniversary of the ‘Yes’ vote, it would be an amazing thing if religious schools let their students and school community know they are safe and supportive environments.”

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For further information and interview requests contact - Tessa Anderssen on 0411 708 587

Additional background:

In 2017 ReachOut, with the Black Dog Institute, headspace, ReachOut, Brain and Mind Centre at University of Sydney and Orygen, the National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health was part of the #mindthefacts campaign that asked Australians to consider the real and devastating link between discrimination and negative mental health impacts for young LGBTIQ people when voting in the marriage equality postal survey.

A ReachOut longitudinal study of nearly 2000 young Australians aged 16-25 showed more than 40% of young LGBTIQ people surveyed were at high risk of suicide – almost double the rate for their heterosexual peers.

The top three reasons young people LGBTIQ+ people visited ReachOut was for help with depression, anxiety and suicide.

About ReachOut Australia

ReachOut has been changing the way people access help since launching as the world’s first online mental health service over 20 years ago. Everything they create is based on the latest evidence and designed with experts, and young people or their parents. This is why ReachOut’s digital self-help tools are trusted, relevant and easy to use.

Available for free anytime and pretty much anywhere, ReachOut is accessed by 132,000 people in Australia every month. That’s more than 1.58 million each year.