The NSW group is urging the Federal Government to commit to continued funding of Safe Schools.

The Safe Schools Program has been immersed controversy for months, which escalated in February under the scrutiny of conservative politicians.

Following the government's recent independent review that found lesson plans were “consistent with the aims of the programme and the Australian Curriculum, suitable, educationally sound and age-appropriate,” the Federal government introduced several changes to the program. The changes include restricting certain resources to one-on-one counselling sessions, amending lesson plans, and requiring parents’ permission for children to participate.

NSW-based Rainbow Families has released a statement urging the federal government to allow the Safe Schools program to continue in it's current form. Rainbow Families is a 100% volunteer organisation that provides a network of support to children and families within the NSW LGBTIQ community.

In the statement, the group wrote, “We are very disappointed by the decisions made by the Federal Government in relation to the Safe Schools Program. All children have the right to feel safe and supported in schools, and to be free from harassment and bullying."

It continued, "Safe Schools is an important and valuable program, providing much-needed support and resources designed to create safe and inclusive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students.”

The group also draws on research conducted regarding LGBT youth and bullying and harassment. They state that of the 10% of youth that identify as LGBT, 75% of these children have experienced a form of homophobic bullying and harassment. They also note, “A recent Australian qualitative study of the experiences of young people from sexual minorities indicated that poor educational outcomes and high rates of dropout were a common consequence of bullying.”

The statement also highlights that the Safe Schools Coalition created the Safe Schools Program as a result of school principals pursuing advice and resources that would help assist them in supporting students. Rainbow Families wrote, “All teachers, principals and carers should have access to appropriate evidence-based resources to provide the necessary support and guidance to students of need. Any changes to the content or the consent process to this resource reduces the integrity and accessibility of the program, and subsequently its effectiveness in reducing bullying of LGBTQI students.”

Rainbow Families stated that it's members “fail to understand the drastic changes and are disappointed that such an important program will be watered down and ultimately defunded.”

Currently, the Federal Government has made it clear that the Safe Schools program will not receive funding after 2017. Government officials from Victoria and the ACT have already announced they will continue to support the program in its original form.

The group ended the letter by stating, “This is abandonment by the Australian Government of their obligations to same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and families. We urgently call on the Federal Government to continue with the Safe Schools Program in its current form and commit to continued funding beyond 2017."

Read the full statement here.