Schools not safe for transgender children

LADIES DRIVING CHANGE: Rachel Richardson and WHGNE executive Susie Reid at Tuesday's International Women's Day function.
LADIES DRIVING CHANGE: Rachel Richardson and WHGNE executive Susie Reid at Tuesday's International Women's Day function.

A transgender woman dedicated to protecting the rights of others marginalised around the North East has called on the federal government to continue with the Safe Schools program.

Wodonga’s Rachel Richardson, a senior academic at Charles Sturt University, was the keynote speaker at the Women’s Health Goulburn North East lunch for International Women’s Day, held on Tuesday.

She told the room of about 50 people in Wangaratta how she, as a young boy at high school, had been bullied and beaten unconscious for being sexually different.

“I was in such a state that I was in complete shock when I was found and was taken to the principal’s office and revived,” Dr Richardson said.

“When I hear someone on national media tell us that we don’t need Safe Schools, I remember that.

“That child there did not deserve what was done to him.

“Bullying - sexual bullying, gender bullying - goes on today.”

She said more must be done to protect the rights of vulnerable children and older transgender people.

“Sometimes I really don’t care if you think I’m a freak, but I do care a lot if you just can’t open up your heart a bit and just be a bit kind,” Dr Richardson said.

WHGNE executive Susie Reid the topic of respect and resilience was important and hoped Dr Richardson’s story could change the way people think and treat others.

“WHGNE believes in diversity and implores the community, which you are all part of, to welcome diversity too,” she said.

“We are learning that life is not as simple as male and female.”

Ms Reid said the journey to change attitudes had a long way to go, so events to highlight the issues were very important.