The age of post-reality

Update February 25 2018: what I believed was satire in October last year, is perhaps more real than first thought. During the week Senator Linda Reynolds called for the inclusion of women in men’s sporting teams, thus removing segregation in sport based on gender.

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After only one season, the AFLW dream has come to an end. The AFL has taken the drastic step to remove the women’s football competition, following the publication of a report on gender by Associate Prof. Damien Riggs and Dr. Clare Bartholomaeus of Flinders University. Apparently, it wouldn’t be fair on women footballers to be segregated from the AFL on account of their sex. From 2018, women will be allowed to enter the draft, and word is, there’s no differences between men and women, and so they’ll do just fine. It is believed that one of the club doctors expressed concerns about the move, but he’s since been sacked, and so shouldn’t pose any further threat to the progress of society.

Not wanting to be left behind, soccer Australia has announced that the Matildas and the Socceroos will be merging: the neutered wombats. Given the recent form by our women’s team, experts anticipate that the new national team to jump through the world rankings, sitting just above Brazil.

It is expected that this year’s cohort of medical students will be the worse since 1968. Ever since words like vagina and penis were banned in class, students are unable to identify human anatomy in their exams

Expectant parents are also among the throng who are dodging the bullet of common sense. When a newborn … passes through the …. canal, obstetricians can no longer tell if it is a boy or a girl. The parents, not wanting to force biology onto their children, leave it sexless and nameless, until such time that XYZ decides what it wants to be. One now former doctor made the unforgivable blunder, calling the life form, a human. It is possible however, that after a public letter of apology and taking reprogramming course in one of the nation’s tertiary uneducated institutions, she may be reissued with a licence to practice.

All this stems from a study conducted by Associate Prof. Damien Riggs and Dr. Clare Bartholomaeus, After spending many hours watching youtube videos, they wrote a series of recommendations for schools, urging them to avoid language that might suggest a person’s gender. The reason being, it may cause some children distress.

They have proposed that school staff refrain from calling boys and girls, boys and girls, and cease sporting activities where children are divided by their gender

According to the story in today’s The Australian,

“Gender could be stripped from classroom talks about sex and anatomy, with body parts described according to their function rather than being considered “male” or “female”, in a proposal by two academics to make school sex education more inclusive of transgender youth.

The terms “penis” and “vagina” could be replaced with gender-neutral terms, while reproduction and safe sex could be taught without referring to “sperm and eggs”.

Channel 7 reported,

“The authors said the aim of the report was to offer Australian policymakers and educators alternative ways to consider sexual health education.”

I have a growing empathy for the science community. Prof Richard Dawkins and his apocalyptic horse buddies have been decrying anti-science and pseudo-science for years, but they’ve been targeting the wrong group of people. It’s not Christians and theists who are the danger to rational thinking, it’s the new wave of university teachers and social commentators who insist that boys and girls must be anything other than boys and girls. Identifying the person standing in front of me has become more perplexing than figuring out a Jackson Pollock painting.

 

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There is such a thing known as ‘gender dysphoria’, where a child or adult feels as though their gender does not match their biological body. It is rare, with about 0.52% of people experiencing some form of transgenderism. It is also known that most children who experience some kind of dysphoria will grow out of it by adulthood. We must love and support these people, for they are made the image of God and have inherent worth. It is vital that our schools and society and churches be safe places for them. However, we are surely entering dangerous territory when  we must desist in applying and even mentioning basic human biology and sociology.

Finally, Riggs and Bartholomaeus have today rigorously denied any link between their de-gendering agenda with the current debate about genderless marriage.

Among their recommendations for schools are:

Philosophy and ethos

• Mission-and-values statement of school includes celebration of diversity, specifically naming gender

• Signs and posters in school celebrate gender diversity, including in the front office

• Written statements about philosophy and ethos that are followed through in practice

Policies, procedures, and guidelines

Bullying, harassment, physical safety, and discrimination:

○ Policies naming gender, gender diversity, and transphobia (including mention of transphobic bullying and language, deliberate ongoing use of incorrect names and pronouns, etc.)

○ Policies outlining consequences for such transphobic actions for students and staff

○ Procedures for dealing with complaints relating to discrimination and harassment

○ Procedure for recording incidents

Dress codes

○ All options for school uniforms and dress codes (including in relating to jewelry and make-up) available to all students, including for sport, formals/proms, and other activities

○ All options for dress codes available to all staff

Toilets/bathrooms and change rooms

○ Student facilities accessible to students according to affirmed gender (or individual transgender students’ preferences)

○ “All gender” toilets/bathrooms available for all students to have access to, if they choose

○ Staff toilets/bathrooms accessible by staff according to their affirmed gender (or individual transgender staff members’ preferences)

○ “All gender” toilets/bathrooms available for all staff to have access to, if they choose

○ Building of new facilities to consider individual facilities (e.g., individual toilet stalls)

  School camps

○ Transgender students consulted about their preferred options for sleeping arrangements when attending school camps; students placed with other students of their affirmed gender, unless they have concerns and then a suitable arrangement should be agreed upon (e.g., placing with friends)

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15532739.2017.1355648

 

In accordance with s 6(5) of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017, this communication was authorised by Murray Campbell , of Melbourne, Victoria.

Footnote: the opening paragraphs are satirical

 

Study shows huge flaws with Safe Schools

Where are we leading our children?

The Safe Schools Program made the front page of my local newspaper this week. One of the local councillors, Paul Peulich, raised concerns over the program at a recent Council meeting. He proposed a motion to bring attention to the issues with Safe Schools, but it was met with ‘silence’ from his fellow councillors.

Following the failed motion, another Councillor,  Steve Staikos, referred to Mr Peulich’s comments as ‘disgraceful’, and Kingston Mayor, Tamsin Bearsley, said no local resident had raised Safe Schools with her as an issue.

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The lack of letters and phone calls to the Mayor’s office is probably due to the fact that Safe Schools is a State and Federal issue, rather than one for local Council, but we are  mistaken if we believe that Kingston City residents are not profoundly concerned with Safe Schools.

While the Federal Government has proposed revisions to the program, parental concerns have been repeatedly ignored by the Victorian Government. Disappointingly, rather than responding to questions with reasoned argument, Government members persist with name calling and accusations of phobia and bigotry.

It is one thing to discount the views of opposition politicians, and even to spurn the concerns of families; but it will be interesting to see what will happen in light of an academic  paper that was published last week, The Controversy over the Safe Schools Program – Finding the Sensible Centre.

Professor Patrick Parkinson AM is one of the nation’s most respected legal academics. He has been researching Safe Schools and has deemed it ‘dubious’, ‘misleading’, and ‘containing exaggerated claims’. 

To be begin with, I fully affirm Professor Parkinson’s words, “it is axiomatic that children and young people should be protected from bullying.” As a parent (and as a Pastor), I do not wish to see any child suffering from bullying. Our schools, churches, and communities ought to be safe places for children.

Throughout the 32 page paper, Professor Parkinson gives detail of the research used by La Trobe University to form the basis of Safe Schools, and what he reveals is shocking.

First of all, the numbers don’t add up. Safe Schools material claims that 10% of the population is same-sex attracted, 4% are transgender or gender diverse, and 1.7% are intersex. None of these statistics are true, in fact all these numbers of wild exaggerations.

For example, when it comes to transgenderism, if 4% was true, it would mean that 1 in every 25 students (approximately one child per classroom) would be transgender. We know anecdotally this is not the case. Where does this number come from? The only citation offered by Safe Schools is from a New Zealand study, which, when read, does not purport that 4% of people are transgender.

Professor Parkinson then quotes the actual report, which says,

“About 1% of students reported that they were transgender (a girl who feels like she should have been a boy, or a boy who feels like he should have been a girl…). Ninety-six percent were not transgender and approximately 3% were not sure.”

Parkinson then states, ‘To count the 3% who answer ‘not sure’ as being ‘gender diverse’ is academically irresponsible. People who answer ‘not sure’ in surveys do so for a variety of reasons, one of which is that they don’t understand what the questioner is asking.’

He then follows to summarise a series of notable studies, none which found more than 0.52% of people are to some extent transgender.

He concludes the section with this damning assessment:

“A likely explanation for the exaggeration of transgender and intersex conditions is that it is regarded as necessary to support the authors’ belief system to show that gender is “fluid” and can even be chosen.”

This is not science, this is uncontrolled ideology, and one that is aimed at our children.

Professor Parkinson also demonstrates how Safe School’s depends on theories of sexuality that counter best knowledge and practice in psychology and medicine, how it offers flawed legal advice, and how it is creating unsafe environments for children and families who don’t adhere to the program’s contentious views. He even argues that Safe Schools poses genuine risk to students who are struggling with aspects of their psychosexual development.

Safe Schools must be challenged, because our children matter and because truth matters. No doubt a reader will inevitably mis-hear and accuse me of hating LGBTI people; for their good and the sake of all children, should not our education programs be grounded in proven research? Should we not frame school curricula with the best available research, rather than ‘erroneous information’?

Mr Peulich’s concerns have been substantiated, and rather than being met with silence, we must speak and address this, and we must resolve these issues before we abuse a whole generation of children with unscientific pop-psychology. We want effective anti-bullying programs in our schools, but Safe Schools is not it.

Safe Schools unravelling

The Safe Schools program has always had more than a few lose threads, and more than a few people have pointed them out and suggested we start again. We are not against an anti-bullying program in our schools, after all, programs already exist and are doing an excellent job. But there is always room for improvement.

One of the main issues with Safe Schools is that it is less about bullying and more about educating children to adhere to a very set paradigm of human sexuality, a perspective that is not held by millions of Australians.  In addition, there is growing consensus in the medical and scientific community that some of the theories presented in Safe Schools (as fact) are in fact wrong and dangerous to children’s health (cf. sexual orientation and gender identity).

While it shouldn’t need to be said again, but because certain politicians have chosen to ignore it, the chief architect of Safe Schools, Roz Ward, has explained the agenda behind the program,

“Programs like the Safe Schools Coalition are making some difference but we’re still a long way from liberation…Marxism offers the hope and the strategy needed to create a world where human sexuality, gender and how we relate to our bodies can blossom in extraordin­arily new and amazing ways that we can only try to imagine today.”

Up until now it has been easy to pretend Roz Ward misspoke, and even easier to dismiss community concerns, especially from those who acknowledge a Christian faith: just call them bigots and homophobes, and it’s game over. Why would the public consider the views of a bigot? I certainly wouldn’t be inclined to do so.

However, the game isn’t over. The Safe Schools agenda has this week been further exposed. A petition of more than 17,000 signatures from the NSW Chinese community has been tabled in the News South Wales Parliament, asking for the program to be removed from schools. And today, The Australian newspaper is reporting that the Indian community in Melbourne share these concerns.

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letter from the Australian Chinese community of NSW

How will the Victorian Government and certain lobby groups respond to these ethnic groups? I sincerely hope they don’t resort to  the kinds of ad hominem attacks that they haven been relying on for quietening  other groups.

Let’s be honest, in the name of religion there are some crazies out there, and there are bigots and homophobic individuals. But for the most part, the concerns we have heard articulated are reasoned and genuine, expressing concerns for children who have questions over their sexual identity. No body wants to see any children being bullied for any reason, and it is good for our schools to provide tools to assist students in understanding and caring for one another.

It is time for Governments across Australia to give ear to the concerns of the public over Safe Schools. We can do better for our children.

An Open Letter for Daniel Andrews and James Merlino

I have a question that I would like to ask of Daniel Andrews and James Merlino.

Any Government will introduce policies with a mixture of success, and with varying responses from the community. On occasions I have affirmed changes implemented by this Government, as well as  highlighting concerns.

The reason for making this letter public is because the question is pertinent to many thousands of Victorian families. Indeed, it is a question many people have raised with me this year.

I appreciate that our members of Government have very busy schedules, with many demands on them, and so it perhaps unlikely Mr Andrews and Mr Merlino will read this letter for themselves, although an acknowledgement would be welcomed and seen by many Victorians as a positive sign from an inclusive Government.

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Before asking my question it is important to provide some context.

SRI (Special Religious Instruction) was a ½hr/week  opt-in program in schools. A variety of religions were offered, depending on parental interest. In August 2015, the Government announced that the program would be removed from class time, and only made available under very strict guidelines (such that very few schools now have the resources to run the program). In the place of SRI, a new program was introduced, Building Healthy Relationships. This curriculum is to be compulsory in all primary and secondary Schools. It is presented as an anti-domestic violence program, an issue which Mr Andrews’ has rightly identified as a major community concern.

There is a lot of useful material in this program, but unfortunately it is aggressively and unnecessarily promotes gender theory. It teaches children to explore alternative sexualities, provides information for children as young as 12 for having sex, and speaks of heterosexual marriage almost exclusively as a ‘power structure behind which domestic violence occurs.’

In the mean time, a separate curriculum, Safe Schools, has been investigated by the Federal Government and much of the material deemed inappropriate for school children. This Federally funded but optional program has been taken up by the Victorian Government. They have rejected the decisions made by Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, they have promised to fund the program if needed, and they have announced that Safe Schools will be compulsory in every Victorian Government School.

The main architect of Safe Schools, Roz Ward (from La Trobe University), has made it clear that the program less about anti-bullying and is primarily designed to introduce Marxist ideology into schools, in order to change children’s beliefs:

“Programs like the Safe Schools Coalition are making some difference but we’re still a long way from liberation… Marxism offers the hope and the strategy needed to create a world where human sexuality, gender and how we relate to our bodies can blossom in extraordin­arily new and amazing ways that we can only try to imagine today.”

Safe Schools not only describes heteronormality as wrong, it labels children who believe in heterosexual normality as “sexist”. It is somewhat ironic that an anti-bullying program specifically gives derogatory names to children who do not support its contentious ideas.

On top of these programs and other initiatives, The Age announced yesterday (May 8) that the Government is also considering introducing into Victorian schools another program about LGBTIQ ideology, the Gayby Baby education toolkit, which is being released this week.

The Director of Gayby Baby, Maya Newel, believes the program is a “no brainer”, saying, “It’s 2016 and something like 30 per cent of children are not raised by biological heterosexual parents, so we’re not just talking about children in same-sex families, but also divorced families and kinship families and so on. Not only will this be the first resource to represent same-sex families, it will also be something that can really dive deep into family diversity as a topic.”

While Newel concedes that the 30% is not all made up with same-sex families, she does misleadingly say, “30 per cent of children are not raised by biological heterosexual parents”. She thus gives the impression that same-sex families are indeed common place. However, according to the 2011 Census, 0.1% of all Australian children live in a home with a couple of the same gender. Not only are the majority of children raised in homes with a mum and dad, most of the other 30% lives in homes where the intent was for children to have a mum and dad, but due to divorce, death, and other circumstances the children are unable to live with both parents.

If we are going to use statistics as argument for changing school curriculum, surely we ought to present the numbers accurately. And also, if 0.1% of the population warrants another sexuality program in schools, then surely the 60% who have at least a nominal Christian affiliation, warrants introducing a Christian view of marriage and family into schools! Don’t worry, I am not actually arguing for that, but simply pointing out the irony in Newel’s argument.

According to The Age,

“As part of its lesson plans, students will be encouraged to deconstruct the stories of the four main children featured in the documentary (whose parents are gay); reflect on families that fall outside the “traditional” family unit; and challenge gender stereotypes.”

“Victorian Equality Minister Martin Foley said the state government would be “only too happy” to lend its support to the resource, “because it fits with our notion that to be a successful and equal society then there has to be a place for everyone”

Given this context of our State Government introducing multiple new curriculums on the same topic of sexuality, my question is this, are families who do not subscribe to views on sexuality as prescribed by the current Government, still welcome in Victorian State Schools? If the answer is yes, are these families permitted to express their views? Will children who articulate a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim view of sexuality be protected in our schools from bullying? Will they be encouraged to share their opinions without students and teachers belittling them?

Last Wednesday, The Australian reported a story of a Frankston family who have been forced to leave their local school because their daughter was subject to bullying for holding Christian beliefs. Perhaps this is an isolated incident or should Victorians anticipate this to be common practice? After all, if gender theory is taught as fact, should we not expect alternative views to be rejected and spoken against in our schools?

Mr Andrews and Mr Merlino, we understand the direction you are taking children’s education in Victoria, but what remains unclear is whether Victorian families remain free in our schools to engage in, to question, and to offer alternative ideas to the ones now promoted. 

I appreciate your time in reading and considering these questions.

Kind Regards,

Murray Campbell

Respectful Relationships?

I agree with Daniel Andrews’ recent comments about the evils of domestic violence in our society, and I laud the Victorian Government for adopting strong measures to support victims and convict perpetrators. Domestic violence is a dreadful, dreadful thing: Sexual, physical, emotional, and material abuse is never justified.

In August 2015, Daniel Andrews announced that the program replacing SRI in schools would be Respectful Relationships, which has been introduced into secondary schools, and will be compulsory from kindergarten to year 10 in 2017.

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There are many things to like in the curriculum, but oddly, a significant portion of the material has little to do with domestic violence, but is teaching children how to find partners and have sex.

For example, year 8 students are asked to write an ad, describing what qualities they would like to find in a partner. Is it appropriate to ask 12 and 13 year old children what kind of sexual relationship that would like to have?  Is it healthy for children to be directed to online dating sites, and given examples, such as these found in the curriculum?:

‘hot gay gal 19 yo seeks outgoing fem 18-25 into nature, sport and nightlife for friendship and relationship’

‘lustful, sexually generous funny and (sometimes shy) Tiger1962 seeking sexy freak out with similar intentioned woman.’

Not only are young teenagers taught about what to look for in a partner, they are taught what to seek in sex, and they are taught what to believe about sexuality, even to explore and affirm alternative sexual orientations.

As one of the year 8 sessions explains, it is designed to,

“enable students to explore the concept of gender and the associated notions and expectations that have an impact on sexuality. It also provides them with the opportunity to connect issues of gender to different positions of power central to adolescent sexual behaviour. The activity also aims to extend their understanding of gender by exploring traditional notions of gender in a case study that examines the experience of a young transsexual person.”

Much of the ensuing material explores broadening the horizons of sexual relationships, with the determination of deconstructing the “narrow” view of gender.

It may surprise some people to learn that children can legally have sex in Victoria from the age of 12 (younger in some States), so long as it is consensual and the other person(s) is within the legal age bracket. This may be lawful, but I suspect many parents would be shocked to learn that schools teach our children it is okay for them to engage in sexual intercourse at such a young age.

We are fooling ourselves if we think that exposing children to these ideas will not result in influencing sexual and social behaviour. The fact that Respectful Relationships makes consent unequivocal (a vital point) does not mean the activity is therefore good and okay for the child.

Also astonishing is what is missing. In a curriculum teaching relationships and sex, marriage receives almost no mention. Why is that? Marriage is mentioned on a ‘character card’ where Stephen, a 16 year old Christian attending a Christian college, believes sex should only take place within marriage between a man and woman (got to love the pastiche Christian example!). And there is Maria, a 15 year old girl who doesn’t want to wait for marriage before experiencing sex. Otherwise, marriage is only mentioned as a power structure behind which domestic violence occurs. What a sad and miserable view of marriage. I understand there are marriages where appalling abuse happens, and in my work I have ministered to victims from such circumstances. But marriage is designed to be, and often is, a beautiful thing, and it remains the best model for loving and caring intimate relationships in society.

Is it not a wonderful thing when a couple covenant together for life, ‘for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish’?

There is much sensible and good advice offered in Respectful Relationships, which could be easily taught without the intrusion of particular views on sexuality and without exposing young children to ideas that blemish their innocence. It is a travesty that the issue of domestic violence has been taken captive by sexual libertarian ideology.

Is it the role of Government to absolutise onto children a theory about gender that is disputable and widely contentious? James Merlino has made it clear that this curriculum is to be compulsory in Victorian schools; I wonder, is forcing explicit sexual language and ideas onto children, moral or even legal?

Far from solving the unspeakable horrors of domestic violence, it is ultimately presenting a different version of the me-centric vision of the world. Author, Tim Keller writes, ‘It is possible to feel you are “madly in love” with someone, when it is really just an attraction to someone who can meet your needs and address the insecurities and doubts you have about yourself. In that kind of relationship, you will demand and control rather than serve and give.’ 

Instead of leaning on a failed sexual revolution in order to find a way forward on domestic violence, would we not serve our children better  if we considered a paradigm of sacrifice and service, and where living for the good of others is esteemed more highly than our own gratification?

Topsy Turvy Sexuality?

Australians are now part of the world of topsy-turvy sexuality; gender is fluid and yet the alphabet of carefully defined sexual orientations grows longer. Our children are now taught in school that gender is not bound by biology and yet the same programs encourage boys and girls to be separated for classes dealing with sex.

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Rabbit or Duck Sculpture

The clarion call of 2016 is that there is no normal when it comes to gender and sexuality, indeed believing so is heresy, and yet when it comes to the teacher’s manual for Respectful Relationships, the Education Department of Victoria strongly suggest ‘single-sex groups’, and ‘male educators’.

Why? According to the Department there are inherent differences between males and females, not only biological and physical differences, but emotional and social differences, such that it ought to influence the way we talk about domestic violence in the classroom.

For example, while mixed gender groups are not dismissed,  multiple reasons are offered as to why single-sex groups may be preferred:

“Both males and females may be more comfortable and expressive in single-sex groups. In sexuality education, for example, there is evidence that young people can be uncomfortable when asked to discuss sexual matters in front of members of the other sex and reluctant to fully participate in sessions held in a mixed-sex environment.

– Mixed-sex discussions can become polarised.

– Working in single-sex groups can minimise the harmful, gendered forms of interaction that are common in mixed-sex groups.

• Girls and women with prior histories of sexual assault may experience mixed-gender workshops as revictimisation, while potential male perpetrators may misuse information on how girls and women can reduce their risk of assault.

• There is some evidence that female and male participants prefer single-sex workshops. Research on violence prevention education among men in particular tends to emphasise the need for male-only groups, for example because:

• men are more comfortable, less defensive and more honest in all male groups

• men are less likely to talk openly in the presence of women

– single-sex groups reveal a diversity of opinions among men that may not be expressed when women are present

• men may be more prepared to reveal, and thus reflect critically, on sexist and abusive histories in all-male settings

• men’s attitudes and behaviour are shaped in powerful ways by their male peers, and male–male influence can be harnessed for positive ends in all-male groups

• there may be greater opportunity to discuss and craft roles for males in ending sexism and violence.

At the same time, there are clear benefits for mixed-sex groups. In particular, they:

• create opportunities for dialogue between females and males regarding gender, sexuality, violence and relationships, fostering cross-gender understanding and alliance

• create opportunities for males to listen to females regarding these issues”

This recognition of male and female differences also affects the question of who should facilitate these Respectful Relationships classes:

“Gender of teaching staff?

Most violence prevention educators in Australia are female, reflecting women’s much higher levels of participation and employment in services, agencies and community efforts addressing men’s violence against women. However, as engaging boys in violence prevention has become more prominent and as men’s roles have received increasing emphasis, there has also been some emphasis on the need for work with boys and young men to be conducted by male facilitators in particular. Arguments for using male facilitators and peer educators when working with all-male audiences include the following:

• Given the benefits of all-male groups or classes (see the discussion under ‘Curriculum structure’ above); male educators or facilitators are a necessary complement to this.

• Male educators and participants can act as role-models for other men.

• Male educators possess an insider’s knowledge of the workings of masculinity and can use this to critical advantage with male audiences.

• Male educators tend to be perceived as more credible and more persuasive by male participants.

• The use of male educators embodies the recognition that men must take responsibility for helping to end men’s violence against women. However, female facilitators can work very effectively with boys and men, and there are benefits to women and men working together.

Such partnerships demonstrate to participants a model of egalitarian working relationships across gender; they model women’s and men’s shared interest in non-violence and gender justice; they give men opportunities to hear of women’s experiences and concerns and to further mobilise their care for the women and girls in their own lives; and they enhance accountability to women and women’s services.

The argument that work with girls and young women should be conducted by female facilitators in particular has been made less often, perhaps as this is the norm anyway, given women’s overrepresentation in the violence prevention field. Nevertheless, it is supported by similar arguments to those above and by earlier arguments for single-sex groups per se.

Simplistic assumptions about ‘matching’ educators and participants, for example by sex, may not address the complex interactions and negotiations that take place regarding a range of forms of social difference, from age and ethnicity to class and sexuality. Indeed, sharing a biological sex is no guarantee of individuals’ compatibility, given males’ and females’ diverse gender identities and relations. In any case, there may be practical constraints on ‘matching’ educators, particularly when it comes to working with boys and young men.

Therefore, while there are valuable arguments for matching the sex of the educator(s) and their students in violence prevention and respectful relationships classes, this report suggests that programs have clear rationales for, or at least a critical understanding of, their use of female or male staff.”

The document is revealing because it presents a teaching methodology that contradicts the teaching material. The authors acknowledge there are real differences between males and females which extend beyond biology and which are not necessarily social constructs.  Indeed, one could say, it is normal. In fact, the authors are left, almost having to justify exceptions to this pattern, saying, ‘here’s what works, but we understand you may want to try things differently’.

No matter how hard sexual deconstructionists try to bend or even remove the parameters of the two genders, we inevitably return to them like fish to water.  I am not saying that there aren’t people who have genuine struggles and even dysphoria, but if gender is as fluid as some are arguing, why did these education experts think it pertinent to provide such specific guidelines, taking into account marked differences between boys and girls? Are they simply reinforcing archaic stereotypes? Or is it the case, that despite pressures to conform to the current mood on sexual thinking, it is impossible to altogether abandon what we know to be true, that boys are boys, and girls are girls:  both are equal and yet different.

The good & not so good from the Safe Schools Review

First of all, I want to thank Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for calling the review of Safe Schools, and Education Minister, Simon Birmingham for his role in overseeing the process.

I know many people are grateful to these and other members of Parliament who have listened to the concerns expressed by the public.

The proposed changes are indeed positive and welcomed, however there remain a number of serious concerns, especially for Victorians.

The positives:

I have copied the Minister’s report below, but to summarise the more significant amendments.

  1. Parents will now have more access to the program, be included in the process if and when a school considers using Safe Schools, and be given the right to have their children opt-out of the program.
  2. Third-party websites will removed except for “organisations funded by state, territory or Commonwealth governments for the provision of mental health or counselling services.”
  3. The content from some lessons will be either removed or reconfigured to be less affronting and to be more age appropriate.
  4. There will be tighter controls on what materials can be used and distributed in classes and in schools.

The negatives:

1. The Network Provider in Victoria is La Trobe University, the very group who authored the program. According to the findings of the review, the La Trobe university team have been found to have written material unsuitable for young teens, and using the program to promote political ideologies.

It is therefore surely untenable to have La Trobe university acting as Network Provider for the State of Victoria. Their reputation has been diminished, and trust significantly eroded, if not altogether.

What guarantees do we have that Roz Ward and her colleagues will desist from using school children as a means to further their ideological agenda? If this were any other education program, they would surely be removed from such an influential position of power over schools and children.

2. What guarantee is there for Victorian families that children will be given permission to opt-out of the program?

While the Federal Government are making this guarantee, the Victorian Government have repeated their policy that the program will be mandatory.

What are Victorian families to expect when our Education Minister, James Merlino, refers to the Federal Government as “caving into bigots”?  Where does that leave 100,000s of Victorians who are against bullying but do not support Safe Schools? The possibility of any genuine dialogue with the Andrews’ Government is doubtful, and no wonder there are people using social media to lash out at concerned persons, when we are hearing Government ministers resorting to such malicious rhetoric.

3. The fact remains that Safe Schools teaches gender fluidity (as though it is the new norm), and it encourages children to question their own sexual orientation and practices. It is ironic that this imbedded doctrine of gender fluidity remains so  intolerant towards anyone who doesn’t fit within its parameters. Teaching children to doubt or ignore biology, and to create their sense of sexuality will inevitably lead to confusion, experimentation and harm.

At this stage, children who believe in heteronormacy will still be labelled as ‘sexists’, and children with unwanted same-sex attraction are given little choice other than to believe that it is inevitable, permanent, and to be embraced.

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Like with Autumn the leaves fall from their branches so Safe Schools has been pruned, but its roots remain unchanged. The revisions are a good start, but they do not go far enough. Safe Schools remains a social engineering program that is wired to change the way children view themselves and each other. With the revisions announced today it is certainly a more sensible program, but the wisest course would have been to put Safe Schools to rest and introduce a new and better program which teaches respect, kindness and resilience.

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There is a story in John’s Gospel where Jesus broke the cultural expectations of his day by speaking to a Samaritan woman. At that time Samaritans were considered social outcasts, and often discriminated against. Jesus’ conversation is all the more outrageous because the person before him was a woman and she was then living with a man to whom she was not married.  To our culture of anything goes this may not sound particularly shocking, but at that time this woman was guilty of  triple-headed social evil. However, it didn’t stop Jesus.

The text tells us how Jesus understood her heart and her past, and yet he struck up a conversation with her, showed her kindness, and even offered this astonishing word, “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” In other words, Jesus did not agree with her lifestyle and yet he loved her and broke down cultural barriers to express kindness to her.

In contrast, many advocates for Safe Schools are repeatedly slandering, and throwing around derogatory names toward anyone getting in the way of this program.

Which of the two examples demonstrates greater tolerance? Which of these two illustrations is more attractive?

Augustine once wrote,

“I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are wise and very beautiful; but I have never read in either of them: Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

Safe Schools may get a few things rights, but its blind commitment to a particular gender theory is setting the stage for a generation of confused children and a society that will grow less tolerant by the day. We need better. We must do better. We can do better.

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Here are the stated changed announced by Simon Birmingham:

1. Fix the content of the programme resources by:

a. Having the lesson plans for Lessons 2, 6 and 7 of the All of Us resource amended to remove those activities identified by the review as potentially unsuitable for some students.

b. Having the content of Lesson 5 of the All of Us resource redesigned to ensure that the content aligns with the curriculum content for biology appropriate for the target age group.

c. Requiring that the amended resources and any further resources be peer reviewed and approved by a panel of qualified educators appointed by the Department of Education and Training.

2. Address concerns about third party links, advocacy and materials in resources by:

a. Having all third party organisation branding removed from all official resources.

b. Having reference to any third parties limited to organisations funded by state, territory or Commonwealth governments for the provision of mental health or counselling services.

c. Requiring that national and local programme managers not bring the programme into disrepute, or engage in political advocacy in a way that represents their views as being endorsed by the programme.

d. Requiring that the resources for the programme not be used for political advocacy.

3. Limit the distribution of certain materials by:

a. Requiring local programme managers to ensure the distribution and promotion of Safe Schools Coalition Australia programme materials is restricted to secondary school settings only.

b. Restricting the use and distribution of the OMG I’m Queer, OMG My Friend’s Queer and Stand Out resources, which were not developed as classroom resources, to one-on-one discussions between students and key qualified staff.

4. Align the location of resources with other inclusion, support, tolerance and anti-bullying measures by housing official resources only on the official Australian Government Safe Schools Hub website, which contains other inclusion and anti-bullying resources for schools, teachers, parents and students in areas such as racism, domestic violence and disabilities. The Safe Schools Coalition Australia website will not have any resources, advice or links and will limit operations to programme coordination and direct users to the Safe Schools Hub for access to official programme resources only.

5. Ensure parents are appropriately empowered and engaged by:

a. Requiring agreement of relevant parent bodies for schools to participate in the Safe Schools Coalition Australia programme, including the extent of participation and any associated changes to school policies.

b. Requiring parental consent for student participation in programme lessons or activities, while maintaining the rights of all students to seek counselling services.

c. Having an official fact sheet for the Safe Schools Coalition Australia programme for parents about the programme developed so they have access to full and consistent information of its content and the resources that may be used in schools.

d. Having an official resource for parents of students dealing with questions of sexual identity developed, and distributed only by key qualified staff.