The Safe Schools Coalition released a statement on July 31st, defending the program and denying recent allegations made against their curriculum.
They state, “Recent online discussion regarding the Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA) program has spread a lot of misinformation, including claims about the content of SSCA resources. These claims have no basis.”
Nowhere does the statement mention which particular allegations are being denied, and neither do they offer any evidence to counter the ‘misinformation’.
It would have been helpful had SSCA clarified what exactly they are repudiating, because as it stands, their statement raises questions rather than answering them.
I am aware of one video that has been shared on social media recently, which has now over 3 million views. The video shows a mother describing her children’s story of how Safe Schools is being taught at their school. Some of her comments relate to facts that can be easily accessed either on the Safe Schools website itself or in media reporting from the last 2 years. Other comments relate to specific activities in the classroom which I can’t personally verify and therefore I’ll suspend judgment. I have no reason to doubt her and her children’s truth telling, but one also needs to be careful about conflating accounts with facts. It is unclear however whether SSCA is referring to this video or to something else. This has an unfortunate effect, a public statement that is designed to be clarifying is in fact just creating ambiguity.
The spokesperson for SSCA ask people to read the information that is available online for teachers, students, and parents. I thought, what a great idea. I hadn’t seen the material for sometime and assume that it may have been updated. So I did check it out, and sadly all the concerns that I have previously expressed have been reinforced.
One statement I do agree with relating to Safe Schools, is found on the Victorian Education Department website, “All students should be safe from bullying and feel included at school. Students who don’t feel safe or included at school cannot learn effectively.”
Unfortunately though, Safe Schools is creating unsafe schools. In the year since the Federal review, concerns have not been alleviated. It is becoming clearer that the authors of Safe Schools have taken one issue, but in the attempt to address it positively they have in fact created many more issues.
- What was first promoted as an anti-bullying program, was soon explained by founder Roz Ward, as a program designed to persuade children of socialist ideologies. Interestingly, the anti-bullying rhetoric is less prominent now, and the program is more clearly marketed as one of supporting LGBTI sexualities.
- Safe Schools will be compulsory in all Victorian State secondary schools in 2018. It is also encouraged for Primary Schools.
- Safe Schools is no longer allowed in NSW, and in South Australian it is being heavily revised.
- Two studies have been conducted into Safe Schools by leading educational experts in Australia. The first was headed by Professor Bill Louden (of the University of Western Australia), and the other by Professor Professor Patrick Parkinson AM. Both studies demonstrate that Safe Schools is built upon misleading information and is unsuitable learning material. Prof Parkinson said that the curriculum is ‘dubious’, ‘misleading’, and ‘containing exaggerated claims’.
- Safe Schools relies on theories of gender and sexuality that have been deemed dangerous, and is now banned from schools in NSW.
- Safe Schools depends on pseudo-science, relying on LGBTI statistics that have been shown to be false.
- Safe Schools material is to be integrated throughout school subjects: “This material can be interspersed throughout school subjects, “Schools may also choose to adapt and use the videos and teaching activities in other areas of the curriculum such as English, History, Humanities, Legal Studies, Civics and Citizenship, and applied learning curriculums (e.g. VCAL, TAS) where the exploration of LGBTI people and topics allows.”
- Despite the Federal Government calling for the removal of third party websites such as Minus 18, Victoria continues partner with Minus 18, and the material encourage teachers to refer students to the Minus 18 website.
- The curriculum is designed to alter the way children think about sexuality and gender, and to change their behavior. Safe Schools is not mere information, but it is aiming for change how children think and relate. One of the dominant themes is that heteronormacy is wrong and immoral, and instead we need to embrace the ‘fact’ that biology doesn’t determine gender, but instead we are what we feel we are
- Exercises and questions given to 11-13 year old children are at times staggering in their inappropriateness. For example,
- ‘Would you invite your partner home with you to meet your family?’
- ‘If you were in a sports team, would you confidently tell your teammates about your sexuality?’
- “Tell students on the left-hand side of the room that their character is going out with someone of the same sex, while the character of those on the right-hand side of the room is going out with someone of the opposite sex…”
There is tremendous pressure on students to conform to the new state quo. Students are not only participating during class, but they are given homework, and are encouraged to share their answers with teachers and with the class. Can you imagine the pressure on those kids who don’t subscribe to the views being taught? Can you imagine the pressure on a child who believes sex is only for a man and a woman in marriage, and to tell the class this? What about children who are same sex attracted but don’t wish to live a gay lifestyle? There is nothing to support them. And what about children who are experiencing some form a gender dysphoria? While best medical research urges delayed action (because the majority of kids no longer suffer dysphoria by the time the reach the end of adolescence), Safe Schools encourages schools to help them transition.
The teachers at my children’s schools are fantastic, and I greatly value their input into our children’s education. Say, though that one of my children came home and told me that their science teacher didn’t believe dinosaurs ever existed; I’d be a tad concerned. If my children’s history teacher taught revisionist history, I’d be keen to chat with the school.
Why then is it ok for our children to be forced to sit in classes that teach sex material based on dubious, misleading, and dangerous ideas? We are not talking about debating palaeontology or what really happened in 1066, but the health and wellbeing of our children, which of course includes children who do not identify as heterosexual.
Building school curriculum on flawed studies ends up hurting students, including those whom its meant to help. For the sake of all our children, we must do better than this. We want to see all children doing well and flourishing, not being bullied, but loved and supported. Safe Schools is continually showing that it isn’t the answer.
I would urge all parents to read the material for themselves. Ask yourself, are you happy for your child(ren) to be taught this in the classroom?