Many in the LGBTI community were confused yesterday when one of the voices quoted criticising the Safe Schools Coalition in The Australian belonged to Rebecca Reynolds, executive director of the National LGBTI Health Alliance, who told the paper that she “does not feel the program should be mandatory”. Since then, two members of the board of the LGBTI Health Alliance have distanced themselves from the comments, with one saying the decision had not been put to him and he wouldn’t support it if it had. Deputy chair of the board Gina Wilson told blogger Doug Pollard:

“I have been contacted by several community organisations in respect of it. I speak here as Deputy Chair of the LGBTI Health Alliance. This is not a position that has been put to me and to the best of my knowledge the Alliance Board. If it had been put to the board for a vote and it was approved I would , as has been suggested by a few I should, have resigned.”

“I support the Safe Schools Program and the research that underpins it. I especially support the recommendations that flow out of that research that suggest that Safe Schools should be rolled out to all schools and should be a compulsory resource. I support without equivocation the safety of all students at school and their human right to that. I support without equivocation the compulsory introduction of Safe Schools programs that promote student safety and the prevention of bullying and intimidation at school.”

This morning Crikey contacted the LGBTI Health Alliance to ask how they had come to this position and why the board had not been consulted. Board chair Susan Ditter said that Reynolds had followed the appropriate delegations of authority in commenting and that she stood by her sentiments.

“We have a very clear process of delegation and Rebecca followed that, the point of view we put was absolutely in line with values of the organisation.”

“We have no control over how a journalist puts things together, and I think that us having the same position as the ACL may have disquieted some people.”

“We take the position of working with people and not challenging people so we are in support of the way the Safe Schools Coalition is working now, where schools choose to work with them, so we’re not saying anything different to what is happening at the moment, and I think that the disquiet that has happened is a serious misreading of what we’re saying. We’re in absolute support of the Safe Schools program.”

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Peter Fray

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