A GROUP of gay students have officially come out to their peers and teachers in a video screening at the Jewish King David School’s Friday morning assembly.
The video shows three girls talking about their sexual orientation and encouraging others who are gay or bisexual to approach them for advice.
The girls are part of the Queer and Or Straight Alliance (QOSA) – a small student-based group at the school which holds meetings and runs events to help educate teenagers about the nature of sexual diversity.
Gayle Factor, a support teacher of QOSA, said the program fostered a comfortable environment for gay and bisexual students to come to terms with their sexuality. Lesbian student Liat said the group was the reason she felt comfortable coming out.
QOSA formed as a result of a broader, government funded and supported program to prevent homophobic bullying in schools.
Since the program’s launch at the end of 2010, 30 schools have become members of the Safer Schools Coalition Victoria.
King David is the only Jewish school to join.
Principal Michelle Bernshaw said she didn’t see the program from the perspective of Judaism but from that of an educator.
“It’s imperative that every child in the school feels supported and respected,” she said.
Friday’s video revelation comes a few weeks after a leading Australian Rabbi, Dr Shimon Cowen, criticised the SSCV’s program fearing that it may “normalise” homosexuality.
Some of QOSA’s members said they had felt alienated from Judaism when they first realised they were gay. But since learning more about its different denominations, they found there could be a healthy relationship between their religion and sexuality.
Another member and video maker, Marco, said you could be gay or bisexual and still be part of a religious community.