High Notes, Vol 17 No 14, May 20 2016

Attention: open in a new window. E-mail

From the Principal

High Talent
Our open basketball team has again qualified for the last 16 in the CHS Knockout Competition. Solid team effort, boys! Congratulations to Marcus Plataniotis (12F) and Thomas Nimac (12E) who were selected in the Combined GPS football team to play in the CIS Championships next week. Thomas Shortridge was representing NSW in the Secondary Schools Debating Team at the National Schools Championships. Well done, Thomas!

New Online Payment Portal
In response to repeated requests from the SBHS P&C, we have set up a prototype online payment system via the parent portal. Thanks to the design work of David Isaacs and the complex data supplied by Sharon Kearns, a selected list of payment items is now available online. They include: Winter Sport Co-payments; Weights until 27 May; Co-Curricular Co-Payments for:  Chess; High Resolves; Music Ensemble Programs; Theatre Sports and Cadets. Also, there will be a link to Gifts/Donations at the Foundation’s online gifting system.

Payment Trial Instructions
The school is operating an online payment trial. During the trial parents can pay invoices for Co-Curricular and Sport Co-Payments online using a credit card. You can access the payment portal using the new [ $ ]  icon on the navigation menu of the school's website, by selecting the Payment Portal link in the Parent Portal or by visiting the portal at https://pay.sbhs.net.au

The payment portal operates like an online store, allowing you to browse a categorised list of payments, pick an item to pay for, add it to your basket and then checkout to pay using Visa or MasterCard.

Before making a payment, you must tell the payment system who you are paying for. We can identify students using their student ID number, your email address (as provided to the school) or your parent portal login.

You can refer to your current statement of account sent by mail to identify which payments are outstanding for your son. Please ensure what you are paying for corresponds to what has been invoiced.

During the trial, payments for Winter Sport 2016 co-payments and invoiced Co-Curricular co-payments will be taken.

The payment portal can also link you through to the school’s online gifting systems operated by the Sydney High School Foundation and the Australian Sports Foundation.

When you complete an order, please note:

  • You will be invited to complete a short survey on the experience and to identify other classes of payments you would find useful to make online
  • Payments are manually verified before your credit card is charged. Therefore, no processing will take place on weekends or school holidays
  • You will receive email confirmation when your payment is received and again once your credit card has been charged

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
At our special assembly to mark the occasion, Justice Michael Kirby spoke passionately about the need to end discrimination in society and for people to get used to knowing LBGTI people. He outlined the plight of Aboriginals, Chinese and women through our history and related his own education at school where the topic of sexual identity was never discussed. He urged our boys in privileged positions in public education, in a selective and diverse school, to take the lead and end discrimination generally and end it against gay and lesbian people specifically. Raymond Roca (SHS 2007) spoke about his time at school where campaigns against bullying and discrimination were working in a physical sense but psychological discrimination still precluded boys from coming out.  He praised the growth he saw in our High culture that could discuss the issue openly at a school assembly. Max Koslowski exhorted the assembly to put school policy into practice. He challenged the boys to go beyond lip service to the idea of respectful relationships but to modify their words and deeds to make them a reality in our school so that all boys can feel safe and supported by our culture. My speech to the assembly is printed below:

"Special Guests Hon Justice Michael Kirby and Raymond Roca (SHS 2007) staff, students, I welcome you to our special assembly to acknowledge the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’  In all cultures, spiritual teachings, philosophies and faiths there is a version of this fundamental expression of human worth and dignity.  Humans desire respectful relationships with one another. Regrettably, too many people don’t self-edit before they say or do things that have negative effects on others, reducing the feelings of self-worth and dignity in those others.

"Homophobia is ‘a useful term of social description for everyday tension about sexual identity that is widespread among heterosexuals’.  Not everyone who is homophobic engages in discriminatory behaviour towards gay and lesbian individuals.  However, people passively still contribute to a general social attitude of intolerance towards them, principally by not confronting those who are discriminatory.

"Michael Hood and Clive Hamilton in a 2005 paper entitled ‘Mapping Homophobia in Australia’ used a Ray Morgan database of c.25,000 respondents aged 14 years and older.  In the study homophobia was identified with those who believe homosexuality is immoral.  Their findings were that more than 35% of the population believe that homosexuality is immoral.  On gender lines 42% of men and 27% of women hold this view. Boys aged 14-17 are more likely to be homophobic than young adults 18-25.  Homophobic attitudes are linked to levels of education – 25% of those tertiary educated were homophobic, compared to 40-50% of those who didn’t complete high school.  Australians over 65 are more homophobic (53%).

"The problem with homophobia is that it is unreasoning.  When attitudes are based in beliefs they are difficult to modify. In places like schools, homophobic attitudes lead to displays of exaggerated macho behaviour and, more insidiously, to stigmatising heterosexual peers, who are accused of having ‘gay characteristics’.  At High we have an anonymous reporting process to uncover the incidence of such practices in our community. I urge more boys to use this facility. It is so important for us to become self-editors in our discourse whenever we contemplate saying something personal about another.

"Schools and workplaces can be distressing for gay and lesbian individuals.  They can suffer stress when hiding their sexuality for fear of the consequences of being found out.  For those courageous enough to declare their sexuality, their subsequent treatment by peers can lead to depression and suicide ideation.

"In a sample of 900, Flood & Hamilton found that 59% of gay and lesbian respondents in workplaces had experienced harassment or prejudicial treatment.  In schools, Same Sex Attracted Youth are six times more likely to attempt suicide than the population as a whole.  Discrimination, victimisation or violence was experienced by 81% of boys at school.  The perpetrators were mainly other students (59%) or even friends (10%). These are alarming findings.

"At High we have a policy declaring a discrimination free environment.  However, to make a policy work we have to change beliefs.  All of us are being asked to question ourselves as to why we feel it is OK to call someone a ‘poof’ or describe a behaviour - ‘that’s so gay’. We need to change behaviours.  First, we must be more sensitive about what we say and to whom we say it.  Second, we must realise that talking about sexual diversity is not promoting homosexuality.  Third, we must broaden our ideas about respecting diversity in general.

"Two thirds of our society reject the view that homosexuality is immoral.  Gradually, this critical mass will grow larger.  It is up to us to help accelerate that process.  We can all do so by being mindful of what we say and do. It starts with our individual discourse. ‘A stone thrown and a word spoken cannot be recalled’. Try not to use wounding words.

"As a school community we can model respectful, inclusive relationships in public assemblies such as this one. We can have reporting structures and peer mediation processes. We can punish overt acts and social media slurs. For beliefs to alter we need to persuade our community to honour essential human dignity. It is unacceptable for anyone’s unreasoned attitudes to be allowed to inflict harm on someone else."
Dr K A Jaggar

Return to Index

Continue reading in PDF format

This complete issue of High Notes is available in PDF format.