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Melbourne Girls’ College will fly the rainbow flag to show support for the LGBTQI community

AN ELITE inner city school will be the first to fly the rainbow flag in Melbourne to show its support for the same-sex attracted and gender diverse community.

Greens Melbourne MP Adam Bandt purchased the flag after putting a call out for public donations last month so schools could fly the flag in support of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and inter­sex (LGBTQI) people.

Melbourne Girls’ College in Richmond will raise the flag when school resumes from holidays next week.

Year 12 student Naida Sheriff said she was “incredibly enthusiastic” her school would fly the rainbow flag.

“It’s something we’ve wanted for a long time and to have it is beyond fantastic,” Ms Sheriff said.

Former Melbourne Girls’ College student Mim Dinapoli said while she enjoyed her time at the school, she kept her sexual orientation private for fear of bullying.

“Some might say a flag is just a flag, but that kind of symbol can be a lighthouse for students, especially those who don’t feel supported at home,” Ms Dinapoli said.

Melbourne Girls’ College teacher Andrew Vance said the school had a diverse community and the flag was a way of showing its support for its students.

Since the crowdfunding campaign was launched last month, about 20 other schools from across the country, including Fitzroy High School, have indicated they want to fly the flag.

A National LGBTI Health Alliance report in 2013 found 20 per cent of trans Australians and 16 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual had reported suicidal thoughts.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month announced an overhaul of the Safe Schools program, which provides resources and support for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and families.

Mr Bandt said students and parents had been appalled by the changes following a review and a rebellion by backbench MPs.

“By proudly raising a rainbow flag at their school, teachers, parents and students are showing LGBTIQ young people that they are supported, accepted and loved,” Mr Bandt said.

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