AFL players agree homophobia is out of bounds

09/05/2011

The AFL Players' Association has teamed up with headspace to celebrate IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia), on May 17.

Carlton player Nick Duigan, who is working as a psychologist at headspace Southern Melbourne, Bob Murphy (Western Bulldogs) and Daniel Jackson (Richmond) are speaking up to encourage tolerance and acceptance.

"We want all young people to feel safe and connected to the community. Sexuality and gender identity do not cause mental health problems, but some of the societal prejudices associated with being same sex attracted can impact a person's good mental health," Nick said.

headspace CEO Chris Tanti said homophobia causes social isolation and bullying behaviour.

"Homophobia is a serious issue that can have devastating effects on the health and wellbeing of a young person," Mr Tanti said.

"Those who identify themselves as being same sex attracted or gender questioning are at a much higher risk of depression and anxiety, and four times more likely to suicide. When young people are killing themselves, it's clearly time to speak out.

"I commend these players for recognising this isn't an issue about just sexuality, it's an issue about the health and wellbeing of young people - you wouldn't ask someone to change footy teams, so why would you ask them to change who they are?" Mr Tanti said.

headspace centres provide a safe and sensitive place for young people wishing to discuss their sexual orientation or gender identity or any other health issues they are worried about.

To celebrate IDAHO headspace and AFL Players are asking young people aged 12 to 25 years to share messages of hope and acceptance by designing postcards around the theme - 'In my Eyes, Homophobia is Out of Bounds'. The most inspiring entries will be selected by the AFL players at an event held at headspace Western Melbourne (80b Harvester Rd, Sunshine) at 3.30pm May 16. Four $100 iTunes vouchers and signed footballs are up for grabs.

To enter the competition download the PDF postcard from headspace.org.au or pick one up from a headspace centre. All cards must be sent to a headspace by 5pm Friday 13 May 2011.

IDAHO aims to create a prejudice-free world which can provide a place at the table for everyone; regardless of their sexual orientation.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is a supporter of this initiative and welcomes the partnership between headspace and the AFLPA.

"We must take every opportunity to condemn homophobia and discrimination, and reassure young men and women that they are valued in our community for who they are," Dr Helen Szoke, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner said.

headspace media contact:
Zoe Brown
Tel: 0422 283 400
Email: zbrown@headspace.org.au