I am foremost writing to you as a father of 3 children who all attend school, and only secondarily as a local community leader.
I am supportive of schools educating children about bullying and making a stand against all manner of bullying, including because of sexuality, but I am convinced that the Safe Schools program is not the answer.
Roz Ward, one of the chief authors and overseers of the program has herself explained that Safe Schools is designed not merely to be an anti-bullying program but it is a tool to promote same-sex marriage and to work against heterosexuality. This reasoning ought to be given due consideration by the Government as they review the material.
I have published many of my questions and concerns on a blog and in The Age, but to summarise some of the more pertinent points for you:
- What materials and support is offered to students who experience same-sex attraction and do not wish to encourage or live out these desires? I am yet to find anything in all their website that will help these children.
- For a course designed to remove ‘stereotypes’, Safe Schools successfully stereotypes many people including some LBGTI people, by not giving legitimacy to individuals who for personal and sometimes religious reasons, do not believe in living out same-sex thoughts and feelings.
- Safe Schools teaches the false dichotomous view about peoples attitudes to gender differences: either you support and encourage all sexual variants, or you are a bigot and homophobe. This is simply not true, and to insist of such simplistic and erroneous positioning is intellectually and morally dishonest.
- The teaching material expressively dismisses heteronormativity and alternative sexual expressions are encouraged. A child who believes heterosexuality is normal or desirable is given label ‘heterosexism.’ Far from educating against bullying, this is bringing bullying into the classroom and giving it legitimacy.
- As a parent I am all to aware how my children are influenced by what they read and watch, and are taught in the classroom. It is simply naive to pretend that Safe Schools will not impact the behaviour and thinking of children in regard to sexual thinking and behaviour. After all, Roz Ward has indicated that this is one of her goals in writing the curriculum.
- As other people have rightly asked, why is an anti-bullying program providing links to websites where students can buy ‘sex equipment’, attend masochist training, and watch pornography? I understand that some of these links have been taken down, but why were they ever there in the first place, and who is to guarantee that they won’t reappear at a future date? These things may not be part of the formal curriculum, but they have nonetheless been added for students who wish to investigate further.
- Finally, the Victorian Government are making Safe Schools compulsory by the end of 2018. What steps will the Federal Government be taking to ensure students will have freedom to opt-out of these classes, should parents believe the program unsafe and unsuitable?
Surely there is a better way forward where we can encourage children to show respect and kindness, and to support children wrestling with identity issues, without pushing a course with questionable science, material, and that has already begun estranging children in our schools.
I am happy to speak further with you should you wish.