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Schools and sporting groups are introducing unisex bathrooms, forming non-gendered playing teams, and flying rainbow flags in a bid to be more inclusive.

Restrictions on terms like “mum”, “dad”, “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” are also part of a push to curb the dropout and suicide rates of LGBTQI+ young people.

The North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network has launched #SpeakingUpSpeaksVolumes campaign to support LGBTQI+ students in schools.

The network’s CEO, Chris Carter, said the campaign “encouraged people to speak up and actively support LGBTQI+ kids”.

“When someone is experiencing bullying, silence often feels like indifference, which can create a terrible sense of isolation,” he said.

“The simple act of openly showing support can be a catalyst for great change for the better and it’s often the less obvious moments that can be the most impactful to someone’s wellbeing.”

The campaign is following material by Proud2Play and VicHealth, which include strategies for schools and sporting groups such as rainbow flag signage, unisex and gender-neutral change rooms and toilets, non-gendered formats for teams and allowing people to play according to gender identity.

The material also recommends avoiding “gendered terms” such as husband and girlfriend.

It is also encouraged to ask others which pronouns they use.

Head of Elevation Secondary College, Colin Burke said homophobia was “really detrimental to our student culture”.

Mr Burke said schools were already doing a lot to be more inclusive and support students who may be persecuted for their sexual orientation.

“This includes gender non-specific bathrooms and taking down some of the boys and girls signs,” he said.

He said gender-specific language terms weren’t being banned, but there were proactive programs to promote more inclusive language.

“It’s also about calling out mistreatment and making it clear it’s not OK,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Over60.

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