Fly­ing the colours

LACES AS ‘CON­VER­SA­TION STARTERS’

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Kaylee Martin

CURTIN Univer­sity sported a splash of colour this month in a bid to ban­ish ho­mo­pho­bia for good.

As part of a uni­fy­ing cam­paign, stu­dents, staff and com­mu­nity mem­bers were given rain­bow shoelaces to demon­strate sup­port for the rights of les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der (LGBT) peo­ple.

The cam­paign was in­tro­duced in col­lab­o­ra­tion with non-for-profit sup­port pro­gram Pride and Di­ver­sity af­ter shock­ing sur­vey re­sults from last year.

In­ter­na­tional study Out On The Fields said ho­mo­pho­bia was wide­spread in sport, with more than 80 per cent of peo­ple – in­clud­ing het­ero­sex­u­als – hav­ing wit­nessed or ex­pe­ri­enced ho­mo­pho­bic jokes.

Nearly half the sur­vey par­tic­i­pants thought LGBT peo­ple were not ac­cepted in sport­ing cul­ture and more than 70 per cent of gay men sur­veyed felt ho­mo­pho­bia was more com­mon in team sports than any other part of so­ci­ety.

The Rain­bow Laces cam­paign ran at Curtin Univer­sity from March 31 to April 4 and ev­ery per­son who en­tered the Curtin sta­dium, whether a stu­dent or not, was given the colour­ful shoe ac­ces­sory.

Curtin Univer­sity di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate val­ues and equity Amanda Wil­lis said the grass­roots cam­paign could grow into a big­ger move­ment.

“Hav­ing these quirky ob­jects or para­pher­na­lia is the kind of thing that will start big­ger con­ver­sa­tions,” Ms Wil­lis said.

“It re­ally is a con­ver­sa­tion starter be­cause peo­ple will ask 'where did you get your laces?' and start to dis­cuss the move­ment, or par­ents might take them home to their kids and ex­plain LBGT rights to them.”

Curtin was given about 1000 pairs of laces as part of the cam­paign.

Ms Wil­lis said she was im­pressed with how well re­ceived they had been.

“Peo­ple were rapt be­cause the laces were so at­trac­tive and they came with an ex­pla­na­tion of the cam­paign; it's dif­fer­ent from just hand­ing out a bit of pa­per with a pol­icy on it,” she said.

“This has done some­thing re­ally pos­i­tive be­cause it's so sym­bolic.”

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son d452202a

Jayde Blyth, Ruby Cun­ning­ham and Joseph Paul.

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