The last two years in LGBT politics in Australia have been dominated by two big issues: The Safe Schools Program and The Marriage Equality Postal Survey.
In each debate advocates have framed LGBT people, and in particular LGBT youth, as being a vul-nerable population in need of protection. The rallying call behind The Safe Schools Program was ‘Safe Schools Save Lives’, with fears that the destruction of the program would lead to increases in bullying and LGBT youth suicide. The main arguments against any form of public vote on marriage equality was that it would lead to a “barrage of bigotry”, which would leave LGBT youth in a par-ticularly vulnerable position. As Greens Senator Janet Rice said: “it is no exaggeration to say that a plebiscite will mean that some people will feel that the best way forward is to take their own life.”
But are there risks to labelling the LGBT community as vulnerable in this way? Does framing LGBT youth as vulnerable and in need of protection disempower them from taking action to tackle homo-phobic sentiments? Do discussions around the mental health of LGBT people highlight a serious issue, or do they add to the medicalisation of LGBT communities? What are ways that LGBT peo-ple can be more empowered and resilient when dealing with these political issues?
Hosted by the Australian National University School of Sociology, join us for a launch of Bent Street: Queer Writing of 2017, in which Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen and PhD student Simon Copland will talk about their chapter “Safe Schools, Marriage Equality, and LGBT Youth Suicide”. They will be joined by Bent Street Editor Tiffany Jones, who will officially launch the book in Canberra, talking about the im-portance of queer writing in these often tough political times.
Bent Street is an annual publication that gathers essays, fiction, poetry, artwork, reflections, letters, blog posts, interviews, performance writing and rants to bring you 'The Year in Queer’. Buy your copy: https://www.bookdepository.com/Bent-Street-1-2017/9781925283167
Dr. Tiffany Jones is an ARC DECRA Fellow at Macquarie University and an Associate Professor at ARCSHS La Trobe University. She edits Bent Street, LGBT Health and LGBT Youth. Her books include Intersex: Stories and Statistics from Australia; Policy and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Students and other titles.
Simon Copland is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the Australian National University. He is a free-lance writer who has been published in the Guardian, SBS Online Australia, BBC Online, and co-produces and presents the podcast Queers. He is the co-editor of the online publishing site Green Agenda, and recently published a chapter in the book How to Vote Progressive in Australia: Labor or Green?
Mary Lou Rasmussen is a Professor the in Sociology at ANU. She is part of the ARC Discovery Project Queer Generations. She is co-editor, with Louisa Allen, of the Handbook of Sexuality Edu-cation. Her monograph, Progressive Sexuality Education has just been released in paperback.