New Norm fights old intolerances

Brett Hatfield is launching a program for LGBTQI awareness in schools. |Picture: Emma Goodwin d426980
Brett Hatfield is launching a program for LGBTQI awareness in schools. |Picture: Emma Goodwin d426980

The 22-year-old is gay and was terrified to come out when he was a private Christian school student.

Years on, Mr Hatfield established The New Norm, an awareness campaign for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersex (LGBTQI) community, helping prevent other students feeling the way he did.

He said at school being gay was a lifestyle ‘strongly frowned upon’, which caused him to doubt himself while feeling confused and marginalised.

Mr Hatfield said coming out was the hardest thing he ever did.

‘The lies of living a homosexual lifestyle developed over my years in high school and I was terrified of the reaction of my friends and family,’ he said.

‘Once finishing high school and dropping these erroneous attitudes, I felt free to express myself and developed an ‘if you don’t like it, then that’s too bad’ sort of attitude.

‘I then knew that I was happy the way I was, regardless of other’s opinions.’

Mr Hatfield said he was saddened to know children continued to suffer the same emotional turmoil he did.

‘I started The New Norm because I didn’t want any other student to suffer through the isolating period of feeling as though they are not good enough because of their sexual preference or gender identity,’ he said.

‘I knew it was time to start educating WA on this significant lack of support and empowering individuals and groups to take action in changing the school environment.’

North Metropolitan Psychological Services Dianella psychologist Julianne Beel said teenagers who identified as LGBQTI often experienced shame, confusion, bullying, fear about coming out and suicidal thoughts.

Ms Beel said teenagers should talk to friends and family to learn emotional regulation strategies to cope with feelings.

She said by talking to professionals, teenagers could get help with self-harm or suicidal thoughts or impulses, develop a stable sense of self-esteem and identity through activities that can allow achievement and/or success.

To get involved in The New Norm go to thenewnorm.org.