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Wear It Purple Day @ Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect)

25 August 2022

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What is Wear it Purple Day?

Wear it Purple Day is about creating safe and inclusive spaces by showing LGBTQIA+ young people that they have the right to be proud of who they are.

What about the intersection of Autistic LGBTQIA+ young people?

In a recent study, 69.7% of Autistic participants reported non-heterosexuality as more prevalent in the Autistic population. This suggests a need for specialised sex education programs for Autistic populations for increased support and awareness (George, 2018).

How has Aspect been supporting our young people?

At Aspect, it is important that our schools are inclusive of everyone to live authentically and to accept and support people as they are for who they are.

The Aspect LGBTQIA+ Inclusion team would like to share a couple of stories from Aspect schools, to highlight the wonderful work we are doing, and through that inspire others about what is possible.

Aspect Hunter School

Aspect Hunter school reviewed and updated their Sex ual Health and Relationship Education (SHRE) section of the Staff Handbook in 2020. As part of this process they consulted with the Aspect LGBTQIA+ Advisory Committee and responded to student need at the school.

Here is one example of a lesson plan on Gender Spectrum that was in a wider PDHPE unit. Gender Spectrum is also a topic of staff development days, delivered by the Inclusion Coordinator at the school.

The lesson explores these key learning outcomes:

  • Sex and gender definitions and how gender is multidimensional and is often seen as a spectrum, similarly to how autism is seen as a spectrum
  • How gender is socially and/or culturally constructed
  • People will often interchange the terms gender (identity) and sex (assigned at birth) neither of which is binary
  • It is often wrongly assumed that they are the same thing and that an individual’s gender automatically aligns with their sex
  • A person's gender is an interrelationship between the three dimensions: body, identity and social gender.

Both students and staff undertake learning and reflection about how gender is seen across a spectrum. It highlights that gender and sexuality are different and sexuality is not a dimension of someone’s gender identity.

Image of how Gender Spectrum is taught in both classroom and staff professional learning days

This visual is used to represent the interconnection of the three dimensions. Students and staff alike take part in a ribbon activity, by first tying a knot at the place along each ribbon where their personal gender identity falls, then braiding the ribbons into their own style. Each creation is slightly different depending where the knots are placed and how it is all braided together.

Example of ribbon activity as part of Aspect Hunter School PDHPE lesson on Gender Spectrum

When staff and students complete the ribbon activity, some wore it as a bracelet, others pinned it to their shirts, and some kept them on their desk.

Aspect South Coast School

Aspect South Coast School has recently registered itself with ACON's 'You are Welcome here" project. The Inclusion Coordinator at the school says “As a school, we want to be visibly clear that we welcome and celebrate LGTBQIA+ people especially our students and staff. By registering the school, we are deepening our commitment to creating an inclusive school community.”

Aspect South Coast school team holding the Welcome Here sticker and Aspect Rainbow umbrellas

Connor's reflection on Wear it Purple Day

One staff member from South Coast School wanted to share a few reflections on Wear it Purple Day and why it’s so important both for them and the students they work with.

“My name is Connor Houghton. I’m 23 and I’ve been working at Aspect for almost five years as a teacher’s aide. I identify as Gay and Non-Binary; my pronouns are He/They.”

Connor Houghton, Aspect South Coast School employee

“I think it is important to celebrate and bring awareness to LGBTQIA+ youth as it is such a hard struggle in someone’s lifetime. I know growing up and questioning myself was not easy and you can feel quite alone and in a dark space not knowing who will support you and who will not, so you mainly just keep quiet and figure it out yourself.

I think celebrating it can really show youth that you are there for them and supportive of what they are going through. It may encourage some of their peers to join in and also start showing more support to hopefully make school and life a bit easier and brighter.

Growing up and being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community meant that I was different and more of a target to bullies. I think if some of the staff and students had better knowledge and awareness, that it would have helped lessen the bullying and made me feel better supported.

I hope we can move into a time where we teach not only our students, but other staff more about the LGBTQIA+ community - by having more talks and people with real experiences share their stories to shed some light and educate staff. This can then lead to further educate the youth and plan more lessons, talks and even have a better know how on supporting kids in the mind set of questioning or knowing if and where they stand in the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Where to from here?

Aspect is committed to promoting inclusion, awareness and acceptance for everyone. Now, more than ever, is a time to incorporate safety, inclusion and empowerment in all schools and workplaces to fight adversity and marginalisation. In the fight for equality, inclusion and acceptance is a deeply important message to our student body to promote “Still me, Still human” a message that encompasses not only the high intersectional crossover of LGBTQIA+ Autistic people, but everyone.

A brilliant reminder that no matter how a person identifies, they are still a valued and welcome member of our schools.

Inclusion matters. Head over to the Wear it Purple Day website for more information and resources.

Wear it Purple logo

Follow these links for more understanding of the intersectional crossover of Autistic LGBTQIA+ people and why inclusion and acceptance are imperative to the mental health of our youth today:

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