'Husband', 'Wife' Banned From Classrooms in Australian Anti-Homophobia Initiative

Teachers are being urged to stop using terms such as husband and wife when addressing students or families under a major anti-homophobia push in Australian schools.

The terms boyfriend, girlfriend and spouse are also on the banned list — to be replaced by the generic "partner" — in changes sought in reducing discrimination in classrooms.

Schools are coming under pressure to provide lessons for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and stack their libraries with books and videos covering their issues.

Among the demands are the outlawing of homophobic comments by teachers or students on the playground and a requirement for teachers to receive "diversity training."

Education Director-General Michael Coutts-Trotter emerged as a leader of the school anti-homophobia campaign, opening a Government-backed conference on sexual diversity — That's So Gay.

The Federation of Parents and Citizens' Associations also weighed into the debate, calling for "appropriate literacy materials promoting diversity in families."

The radical shake-up means that families with two mothers or two fathers are set to be accepted as a normal part of school communities.

Coutts-Trotter said public schools had a responsibility to include children from same sex couples and allow no discrimination.

"Happy families come in all shapes and sizes," he said.

"We value diversity and include everyone in the life of the school ... meeting the bare legal requirement is not enough.

"Public education has a responsibility to include ... to strive to make all feel welcome."

Coutts-Trotter said he was aware some teenagers felt "lonely and abandoned as they come to terms with their sexuality."

He said leadership from students in public and independent schools was an important weapon to support those facing discrimination and "combat homophobia."

"Our schools should be sanctuaries (for students)."

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that the department is already spearheading a major push to win acceptance for gay and lesbian students in public schools.