The Australian Government has been promoting an initiative called Safe Schools, which is aimed to promote a safe environment for children in all participating schools. It’s especially aimed to fight against bullying and to support tolerance.
Bullying, if you’re not sure of the term, is when someone uses physical or verbal means to hurt someone else. It could be, for example, calling someone bad names or saying bad things to them, or even hitting them. Bullying can be used to hurt someone due to their race, religion, sexuality, or indeed anything.
A bully is the name for the person who carries out this kind of behaviour.
A common phrasal verb used to mean tease or bully is pick on:
He picked on her after she lost the match.
“I hate being picked on.”
She picked on him for having red hair.
However, this week the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a review of the Safe Schools programe following complaints that the programme is not appropriate for children and that it overly-promotes an LGBTQI agenda (LGBTQI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning and intersex).
Controversy – Should Sexuality Be Taught & Discussed Among Children?
The website for the Safe Schools Coalition – which is funded by the Australian Government – offers a wide range of resources for teachers, students and families. You can check them out here.
In particular, the goal involves: “supporting gender diversity, intersex and sexual diversity in schools.”
As reported in Mashable:
“The program, which launched in the state of Victoria in 2010 and nationally in 2014, seeks to provide an education framework to help LGBTQI teens deal with daily issues and reduce homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in Australia schools.”
As you’ll see below, many parents and organisations are either completely against this programme or have grave reservations. In fact, some parents have already pulled their children out of these schools due to the controversial nature of the materials.
So what started as a well-intended programme to tackle bullying has turned into a discussion about sex and sexuality and whether the content of the programme is suitable for children as young as 11.
What Do People Think?
I can’t include everyone’s point of view, but below you’ll see a wide range of opinions on the matter. Please feel free to read through them and leave a comment about what you think of the whole issue:
In Favour Of Safe Schools
“At my NRL-mad, all boys Christian school, it was painfully obvious that I was gay. I didn’t play sports. I liked to hang out in the library. I loved writing and art and theatre. I was tall, gawky, not very cool and a bit camp.
And every single day for years, things were hell. I feared for my life. I ran, hid, kept my head down, stifled my spirit, tried to be the furtherest thing from myself — anything to avoid being a target.
I was bashed, ridiculed, taunted endlessly, you name it. I was almost run over. At a school camp, I was tied to a tree and beaten with an oar. Teachers seemed indifferent. Some blamed my “personality”. I lived in despair, although in hindsight, it’s clear I wasn’t really living at all.
That’s why programs like Safe Schools are important.”
– Shannon Molloy, a victim of bullying supports the Safe Schools programme.
“I spent a lot of time running and hiding at school (years) because of the daily taunts, insults, jokes, spitting, hair-pulling and group beatings. I knew all the hiding places in virtually every inch of our school grounds. I felt like a hunted animal.” – A comment by ‘Andrew’ in the Daily Telegraph
“Opposition to the Safe Schools Coalition seems to be based on the absurd idea that simply by talking about differences in sexuality or gender identity you’re going to recruit people. Anyone with the most basic understanding of human sexuality knows how ridiculous that is.” – Senator Robert Simms.
Points Against The Programme
“Federal funds and resources from schools are pushing a social engineering agenda that is radically at odds with the aspirations of many parents. We have got children as young as 11 being told to imagine they’re 16 and in a sexualised environment, others in a same-sex or opposite-sex attraction, to imagine themselves without genitals and being bullied.
This is about the appropriateness of materials presented to our kids. I want the government to pull the rest of the funding for the remainder of the program.”
– Liberal Member of Parliament Cory Bernardi raised concerns in the Coalition party room.
“Do students at a ‘Safe School’ have a right to hold their own diverse views about sexuality/gender, and openly express those views, without pressure or vilification? As you know, students in our public schools come from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds: many of these students and their parents have different views about gender and sexuality than the Safe Schools material.
But do Safe Schools respect these student’s rights to hold their own views, and express those views in appropriate and civil ways?
Or is there pressure in Safe Schools – whether from the school or the student body – to accept only your account of gender and human sexuality (with administrative or social consequences (e.g. bullying from peers) if a student expresses a different view)?”
– Christian Akos Balogh
“One activity requires the class to imagine themselves as 16 year olds in a same-sex relationship.
“Making a public example of children on controversial sexual matters is a form of cultural bullying. It is ironic that the program, which claims to tackle bullying, pressures children from families who may not support LGBTI ideology.
“Schools should be a safe environment where students are taught and not where they are made a public example of if they do not support or know where they stand on a particular ideology.
“What right do schools have to force this ideology upon 11 and 14 year old children? Why are parents not being consulted?” – Australian Christian Lobby
Over To You
What do you think of the Australian Government’s programme and the Safe Schools Coalition?
- Should children discuss sexuality in school? If so, what age is appropriate to start this conversation? Is 11 too young?
- Shouldn’t our schools focus on traditional subjects like English, maths and history?
- Who should teach our children about sex and sexuality..?
- How should we stop bullying in our schools?
- Do you think there is also intolerance of Christians and other religions in state schools and across Secular Progressive media?
- Would you send your children to a Safe School? Would you be open to see how successful the initiative is before making a decision about it?
- Should we wait 5 years to see how successful or otherwise this project is?
- Is the government crossing the line and actively promoting ‘an LGBTQI agenda‘? If so, is this how you want your tax dollars to be spent?
- If this is being presented in our schools, shouldn’t children also hear opposing or alternative points of views on this?
- Do you like the idea of this programme? Why or why not?
From Christian media:
- Does the Safe Schools Coalition take an agenda into the classroom?
- Does “All of Us” go beyond the anti bullying mandate and promote an LGBTI point of view?
- Dear Safe Schools
- Kids pulled from school as “All of Us” released in Australian schools by LGBTI activists
From Secular Progressive media:
- Don’t believe everything conservative MPs claim: the FACTS on what Safe Schools teaches kids
- Safe Schools program: why zealots are trying to drag us back to the dark ages
An opposing point of view, quite surprisingly, was also published by The Age:
From News Corporation:
New: British Telegraph article on homophobia in schools