From Safe School to Safe SportWe need to create and maintain supportive learning and sporting environments

Leadership with demonstrated equality is overdue in Australia.  Leadership comes from top-down, for example, from Principals in the School Sector and the Prime Minister at a national level.

In Sydney, we have it from our Local Member and Mayor but sadly not at a State or National level; think ‘ditch the witch’, to that infamous ‘Misogyny Speech’, that 60 Minutes interview, to the more recent “heads, should roll” visionary statement. Why? Is it any wonder that we have unsafe schools and unsafe sport with this clearly articulated leadership? Imagine the outcry if a Principal were to lead in this manner, instead of eliminating criminal intentions.

After focusing on ‘homophobia in schools’ throughout my role as Principal (that has contributed to the Safe Schools Coalition, Safe Schools Framework, Safe Schools are Smart Schools, Campaign for Safe Schools, Safe Schools Alliance, etc), it is time for teachers (and other educators, Counsellors, players, coaches, administrators, volunteers, spectators, fans, families, friends, supporters, sponsors) to step up to the mark, to address ‘homophobia in sport’. With equality, sport and natural talent can thrive in the same way that inclusive schools are managed and operate, so that sport mirrors society.

How? Macquarie Grammar was the first school to publicly announce its culture of inclusivity with zero tolerance of bullying, hate and bigotry with Mardi Gras Parade messages: We won’t let hatred grow; Put a little love in your heart. Such community engagement and positive culture are also highly recommended by the Grattan Institute. Creating and maintaining supportive and safe learning environments and engaging with colleagues, parents/carers and the community (all part of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers), produce great teaching and inspired learning.

At the end of the day, inclusion overrides participation.

MGS operates the way that Australian Schools used to be, where everyone was welcome and before mass segregation took over—single-gender, multiple organised religious brands with indoctrination and exclusionary agendas, non-compliance or total exemption from the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, the encouraging and spreading of hatred that leads to bullying, violence, homelessness, suicide, murder, directly or indirectly. By working together as a community, a clear message must be conveyed that homophobia and transphobia, in or outside of school and sport, are inexcusable, at any time.

A student came to my office and said: “Dr Gauld, you know how we don’t do bullying (as though it‘s a subject/product that is offered at other schools), well, I know a girl who is getting bullied at her school. Can she come to our School or does she have to wait until next year?” Yes, such students think that bullying is part of the ‘offering’/products at schools and that students must endure such practices without the right to leave.

Team Sydney aims to unite, as a Sports Community, as per its Constitution, to “promote and encourage participation in sport and sporting events and foster a healthy lifestyle” and to host Australia’s first Homophobia and Transphobia in Sport Conference.

Sports and international sporting events are a way to unite people around the world. Allowing and encouraging violence, hate and hate speech to be part of the sport, challenges the meaning and definition of sport as a “pleasant pastime”. They can’t both be right; something’s got to change, especially in Sydney with regular occurrences like the Junior Violence in Sport headline.

Team Sydney’s Sports Conference plans to provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change and to avoid people being bullied into feeling that their lives are so hopeless that they are driven to self-destructive acts. People can still be terminated from their job for simply being who they are. Young people are kicked out of their families just for being who they are.

It may be hard to change habits or to change people’s language, but it is possible to create a safe, inclusive and non-judging sporting environment that is free of discrimination, oppression and hostility, by reporting incidents, appropriate sanctions for breaches and member protection policies. Sport is meant to provide participants with a sense of enjoyment, relaxation, health and social benefits. It promotes fairness, equity and guides what it means to be Australian.

Dr Darryl Gauld has been the Principal of Macquarie Grammar School for over 10 years and is the President of Team Sydney Inc.