Respectful Relationships now compulsory across Victoria

The Respectful Relationships curriculum is now compulsory across Victorian schools and early childhood learning centres. Children will be first introduced to material in kindergarten.

With all the attention on the now unravelling Safe Schools program, its cousin, Respectful Relationships has received little attention, despite it targeting not only teenagers but also our young children, and it being made mandatory throughout the State. It has however received some attention this morning in The Australian,with reporter Rebecca Urban, revealing that Safe Schools co-author, Joel Radcliffe,  has been appointed to the Victorian Education and Training Department to assist in rolling out the program across the schools.

It is important for parents to have knowledge of Respectful Relationships and to ask questions where they are unsure of its content or have concerns. One may well discover that their school shares similar concerns over the material.

I want to make it clear that there are positive aspects to this new program as well as  significant concerns, and it would be a shame for the program’s aim to be hijacked by the unscientific theories and morally dubious suggestions that currently run throughout. It would be certainly irresponsible to teach some of the content without parental awareness. 

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If you are unfamiliar with the program, here is an overview that I wrote last year:

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.

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?

We can learn from NSW…sometimes

I know we like to dislike our northern neighbours in NSW, but sometimes we really ought to take notice and learn from their example. No, I don’t mean playing football with an oversized egg or drinking their faux coffee. Yesterday, The Australian  reported that students in NSW schools will no longer be permitted to learn gender theory,

Students will no longer be taught that gender is a “social construct”, or that sexuality is “non-binary”, occurring on a ­continuum and “constantly changing”.

An edict encouraging teachers to “de-gender” their language will also likely be scrapped, along with sexually explicit case studies and teaching aids such as the “Genderbread Person”, which promotes the idea that there are “infinite possibilities” of gender identity.

The decision follows an independent inquiry that reported in September last year. The review was headed by Professor Bill Louden (of the University of Western Australia) and examined sex and health education resources for NSW schools. It appears as though changes are being implemented not only with Safe Schools, but any part of the State curriculum where a de-gender and gender-continuum message has been integrated.

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Of particular relevance for Victoria is  that Professor Loudan’s review is finding bi-partisan support in NSW. In fact,  NSW Labour MP Greg Donnelly has taken the unusual step of writing an open letter to the Victorian Premier, imploring him to give this report due consideration,

“Politicians in one state do not generally take kindly to colleagues in another state giving them advice. There can be exceptions but the unwritten rule is that if you stick your head out and give advice across the border, you are likely to get it knocked-off. With that said, let me now give some advice to my Labor colleagues in Victoria.

The Safe Schools program that the Victorian Government is imposing on public schools in that state is political poison. While it may be just starting to show up in focus groups and other polling activities undertaken by the Labor Party, do not underestimate its malignancy. When it fully manifests, it will be like a fully laden freight train that you will not be able to stop.

The problem for the Premier and the Minister for Education is that the Safe Schools program from the get-go was never about anti-bullying. It was about inculcating into school children hard edged sexuality and gender ideologies. The same ideologies that are examined and debated when undertaking Gender Studies units at university. The same units that such students elect to do by choice; no compulsion or requirement. Not only are these ideologies being presented to school children as a matter of fact i.e. sexuality and gender are not to be understood in any other way, but parents are being kept completely in the dark about what is being presented to their children and by who.”

Mr Donnelly continues, “Premier Andrews and Education Minister Merlino have been both doctrinaire and obstinate about the Safe Schools program. As a case in point, in March last year following a review of the resource material located on the Safe Schools Coalition Australia website it was recommended by the reviewer, Professor William Louden, that certain content was not fit for purpose. It was subsequently removed from the Safe Schools Coalition Australia website. In Victoria though the material that was removed from the website was immediately uploaded onto the state’s Department of Education and Training website, presumable under instruction from the Premier and/or Minister for Education. That material still sits on the Department’s website and is being actively promoted. In other words instead of taking into account what were rather modest recommendations by Professor Louden, the Victorian Premier and Education Minister got all hairy chested and gave the whole review exercise the middle finger.”

I totally get why Victorians build rhetorical walls to keep out this colony of convicts. Listening to a New South Welshman may sound like a Banshee singing Justin Bieber, but on this occasion we Victorians are fools to ignore such sage advice.

Mr Andrews and Mr Merlino, as a Victorian and parent of 3 children, I strongly urge you to re-examine your position on Safe Schools, and the unscientific and harmful gender theories now being forced upon our children. It’s ok to once in a while to redress mistakes and poor policy; humility is in fact a virtue that we value in our political leaders.  In winding back ‘Safe Schools’ and aspects of the ‘Respectful Relationships’ program, we do not have to wind back the clock on caring for children who may be working through issues of their own sexuality. We want to see them safe and flourishing, and this is achievable without having to promote ideology that is demonstrably skewed and unsuitable for the classroom.

Heteronormacy is the new Heresy

A word of clarification and qualification:

I’ve received some helpful feedback this afternoon, and upon reflection, I should probably have nuanced some of the comments in this post.

While the guidelines don’t ban the use of ‘traditional’ words, it is nonetheless framing a new language that the Government want used in the workplace.And while I agree that one can read the document with a fair degree of latitude, it is written in a way that can also be enforced rigidly when suited.

– The Guidelines do discourage using the language of husband and wife, and it does encourage gender neutral alternatives.

-The document also rejects heteronormative language and thinking, branding it as a form of sexism.

Both of these points are problematic.

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The Victorian Government has published Guidelines for State employed workers, informing them of what language is appropriate when addressing fellow employees, including those who are married. The Government is encouraging even non-Government  business and organisations to adopt their chosen language.

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In The Australian today, Ro Allen, Victoria’s gender and sexuality commissioner, says that the Inclusive Language Guide is designed to teach people to use the ‘correct language’.

What is the basis for the officially declared ‘correct language’? If anyone was hoping the answer would be grounded science or even common sense, you’ll be sadly disappointed. The accepted language is defined against what is perceived as heteronormative. In other words, the noun wife assume that the person is a woman; that is gender specific and therefore inappropriate.

What is the correct language? Spouse is preferred, but also, if you a married woman, you shall be known as Hir, and if you are a married man, you shall be called Zie.

I would have thought that quite a few married women will be offended if you refer to them as an androgynous being, which is what the pronoun Hir means. And calling a bloke Zie is not going to upset anyone? Hey Bill, instead of referring to you as he and him, and man, I will now speak of you as Zie! And if you’re offended by that, don’t worry, it’s the correct language so says the Government. 

To be fair, the Guidelines also address some issues relating to LGBTIQ persons, which are reasonable. For example, using words to demean gay and lesbian people is not appropriate, in the workplace or anywhere for that matter.

The Guidelines state,

‘Inclusive language ensures everyone is treated with respect as such language is free from words or tones that reflect prejudice, discrimination or stereotypes. Gender and sexuality are experienced and expressed in many different ways, and using language that excludes or stereotypes can cause unintentional harm to LGBTI individuals. This includes ‘positive’ stereotyping of LGBTI people.’

The Government has a growing list of policy initiatives that allege to defend equality and safety for LGBTIQ Victorians. I gladly affirm policies that will protect people from harm, but it is clear however, that the Government’s agenda exceeds these goals, and there is the now explicit intent to rewrite the human understanding of male and female. Whether it is Safe Schools, the birth certificate legislation, Respectful Relationships, or this workers guide, what we are told to believe is that heteronormacy is false and unethical. Indeed, as with Safe Schools, these Guidelines judge that anyone affirming heteronormacy is sexist, and their views are to be removed from the workplace.

Think about it, what is more sexist, acknowledging my wife’s femaleness, or referring to her as an androgynous being? What amounts to discrimination, suggesting a married man is someone’s husband, or calling them Zie, and doing so whether they like it or nor?

As crazy as it sounds, in the foreseeable future Victorians will be forced to refrain from speaking of anyone as a woman or man, boy or girl, daughter or son. Instead, we will told by Governmental authorities what the correct language is, and those who fail to comply will no doubt find themselves in hot water.

The new moral vision that Daniel Andrews is championing will not lead to a fairer Victoria, but a more confused Victoria, and one where people are fearful to use natural and wonderful words like husband and wife, and man and woman, lest they be bullied for pseudo-sexism.

We should not be afraid to affirm manhood and womanhood. No one should be called sexist for using the natural categories of wife and husband. No gay and lesbian or transgender person should be victim of work place mockery and bullying.

I trust that concerned members of Parliament, including  within the Labour caucus, will speak up against this latest chapter in Mr Andrews program to prejudice heteronormacy.

The answer can be found inside the Victorian Parliament

“All along the answer was staring us in the face.”

BREAKING NEWS: We are thankful to God for his grace and grateful to those who voted and defeated the ‘inherent requirement’ legislation.

Should this amendment to the ‘Equal Opportunity Act’ have been adopted, all religious organisations in Victoria, including churches, would have lost their freedom to employ people based on the beliefs and practices of the organisation. A tribunal would have been appointed by the Government, establishing a theological framework for all religious groups, and this same body would determine whether potential employees would be ‘inherently required’ to follow the convictions of any particular religious organisation.

In essence, the legislation would have redefined the role of Government in religious matters, giving it pseudo-episcopalian oversight.

A liberal democracy necessarily provides and protects an environment for society whereby associations have freedom to employ persons who’s convictions and character align with that organisation. In spite of the Andrews Government’s intent to remove this freedom from churches and religious schools, the Parliament has determined otherwise, at least for this point in time.

Today, we witnessed the Victorian Parliament putting on the brakes, and in a small way, slowing down a movement that is intent on eliminating Christian beliefs from society. After a series of anti-Christian policies that have come into effect over the past 2 years, we should be thankful for today’s decision, which means that the State of Victoria has retained an important aspect of religious freedom.

As we express gratitude, I trust though that people will refrain from pontificating, and from presuming that this decision will in some way advance Christian faith in Victoria. The reason is simple, the Gospel doesn’t advance through Parliamentary processes but only through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good thing that the legislation was defeated, but we mustn’t over-state the argument.

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Rather than focusing on the ‘inherent requirement’ legislation, I wish to take the opportunity to speak of a little known fact about our Parliament building. Positioned in the middle of the Victorian Parliament building, inside the library, is a large Bible, opened and sitting on a wooden stand. It is not hidden in a corner or shelved along a row of books, but stands alone at the centre of the library, conspicuous as a light post.  Despite its prominence though, one wonders how often people stop to notice let alone read this copy of God’s word. One wonders if people consider this Holy book anything more than an item of historic curiosity.

I have walked passed this Bible on numerous occasions, and  have noted that it is always opened to the same passage, Jeremiah chapter 31. I don’t know the story behind choosing this particular portion of Scripture, and whether it was chosen carefully or just opened randomly. Either way, it is a fitting page for the seat of Victorian political power.

The book of Jeremiah was written in the 6th Century BC, at the time of the Babylonian invasion and of Jerusalem’s destruction.  The book details the ministry of Jeremiah the prophet, who expounded words from God that offered explanation of the nation’s then predicament. It was a time when society had turned its back on the God of the Bible, and instead chose to propagate and trust in ‘progressive’ political and religious thought. Not all Biblical thought was silenced, aspects were retained although heavily redacted and reinterpreted in ‘new’ ways.

The nation’s leaders, both political and religious, in ways that may remind one of Neville Chamberlain, spoke of a message of peace,

“From the least to the greatest,

all are greedy for gain;

prophets and priests alike,

    all practice deceit.

They dress the wound of my people

    as though it were not serious.

‘Peace, peace,’ they say,

    when there is no peace.

Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?

    No, they have no shame at all;

    they do not even know how to blush.

So they will fall among the fallen;

    they will be brought down when I punish them,”

says the Lord.’

(Jeremiah 6:13-15)

The book of Jeremiah contains many bleak messages, and with good reason, but it is not without hope. Jeremiah ch.31 gives a portrait for a new beginning, a Divine promise of hope to those without hope. What is especially staggering about the message is that it is not written for ‘good’ people who are being beaten down by an oppression regime, but it is written for those who were doing the beating. To a disinterested and at times vitriolic people, God speaks a message forgiveness and newness, one that reaches to a level of humanity that no human law and politics can reach, the human heart.

He says,

31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,

    “when I will make a new covenant

with the people of Israel

    and with the people of Judah.

32 It will not be like the covenant

    I made with their ancestors

when I took them by the hand

    to lead them out of Egypt,

because they broke my covenant,

    though I was a husband to them,”

declares the Lord.

33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel

    after that time,” declares the Lord.

“I will put my law in their minds

    and write it on their hearts.

I will be their God,

    and they will be my people.

34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,

    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’

because they will all know me,

    from the least of them to the greatest,”

declares the Lord.

“For I will forgive their wickedness

    and will remember their sins no more.”

35 This is what the Lord says,

he who appoints the sun

    to shine by day,

who decrees the moon and stars

    to shine by night,

who stirs up the sea

    so that its waves roar—

    the Lord Almighty is his name:

36 “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,”

    declares the Lord,

“will Israel ever cease

    being a nation before me.”

37 This is what the Lord says:

“Only if the heavens above can be measured

    and the foundations of the earth below be searched out

will I reject all the descendants of Israel

    because of all they have done,”

declares the Lord.

It is quite extraordinary and wonderful that at the centre of Victoria’s State legislative power is a reminder of ultimate hope. The answer to our deepest struggles and concerns lays not with Government policy and lawmaking, not in a ground swell of public opinion, or in the strident voices of columnists, but in an ancient promise given by God, God who kept his word by sending his only Son into the world.

The reality is, in different ways our political and ideological preferences can blind us from the glory of Jeremiah ch.31, whether we define ourselves as progressive or conservative, green, red or blue. No matter where people align themselves on these spectrums Jeremiah 31 gives a Divine word that counters and surprises. God is not frustrated by or restrained by any socio-political movement, and neither is he defined by it.

I would encourage all who visit our Parliamentary library, don’t walk past the Bible. Why not pause and read, and ponder at the possibility of its promises being true?

Our Rubicon River

Should a cricket club have freedom to appoint persons who share the values of their club?

Should a political party have liberty to pre-select individuals who support and will promote their policies?

Should not a corporation employ professionals who will abide by the values and vision of that institution?

For most of our nation’s history Churches and Governments have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship; understanding their distinct roles while together serving for the good of society. Both have had their failings as well as making enormous contributions to building our society, but Australians have always been careful not to confuse the two.  Tomorrow (Tuesday 8th November) this judicious relationship may come to an end as the Victorian Government proposes a hostile takeover of all religious organisations.

The Victorian Legislative Council will tomorrow debate and vote on the proposed Inherent Requirements test. The purpose of this amendment to the Equal Opportunity Act is to require religious organisations to demonstrate that their employees must necessarily subscribe to the beliefs and values of that church, school, or charity. 

Religious organisations currently have freedom to employ persons who affirm the beliefs and practices shared by that organisation; this is only sensible. Should this legislation pass, a tribunal will be appointed by the Government who will determine what constitutes inherent requirements for all religions across the State. In other words, the Government is posturing itself as a teacher and arbiter of theology, with power to inform Churches, Synagogues, and religious schools whom they are to employ.

The Government has presented the amendment as a natural extension in the fight for equality, but the reality is quite different. Labor wants sameness not equality. This Bill will inevitably work against a pluralist and diverse society, and instead demand that Victorians fall into line with a rigid and historically dubious view of secularism.

Dr Michael Bird was right when he called out the inherent requirement test as an example of Secularized Erastianism, a philosophy which asserts that the State shapes and controls religious belief and practice.

I can imagine some secularists will be ecstatic at hearing the Government’s plan to further diminish religious freedom in Victoria, but is there not an air of hypocrisy in all this? Do atheistic humanists really want the Government functioning as bishops over churches, religious schools, and charities? Do nonbelievers genuinely think they have the academic credentials, expertise, and the right to define the theological parameters for synagogues and churches, explicating what is inherently required of that religion or not?

As Dr Bird notes, the problem is that “demonstrate a necessary connection” between beliefs and roles is notoriously subjective. There are no objective criteria here since beliefs and roles will vary from religion to religion and from organization to organization. So who is going to decide when a “necessary connection” exists between beliefs and roles and exactly how they will decide?’

The ‘inherent requirement’ test is all the more ironic, given how the Andrews’ Government has spent the last two years introducing several policies designed to push out Christian involvement from the public square, and now they are intent on invading religious spaces.

I cannot speak for all religious organisations, but when it comes to Christian Churches they are, for the most part, welcoming of anyone from any cultural, religious, sexual orientation background. I am not denying that there are appropriate rules and requirements for those who would serve in a formal capacity, and neither am I ignoring that associations can sometimes get it wrong. But the Christian Gospel is all about welcoming men and women who have no rights on God, no inherent claims on him, and yet in Jesus Christ we are lovingly forgiven and welcomed. This conviction has forged a tradition throughout the world of Christians starting not only churches, but also schools and hospitals and aged-care facilities, without which both our Government and society would collapse.

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Former Victorian Crown Counsel, Mark Sneddon, recently offered this caution against the Bill,

“The proposed bill amending the Equal Opportunity Act will not encourage Victorians to get along with each other. It won’t enable Victorians to live and let live. In fact, it is more likely to exacerbate division by creating legal weapons for forcing some voluntary associations to host or endorse views with which they deeply disagree.

Deep differences of moral vision will not be resolved by trying to legislate one view to supremacy and squashing others. Rather, we should accept that there are different views, and defend each other’s rights to hold and live out different views. Importantly, we should also commit to respectful communication so we can understand each other and agree how to live together peacefully with our differences.”

All the good that this Government may achieve is being swallowed up by their rigid and aggressive social agenda. This legislation is not only nonsensical, it is dangerous; they have reached the Rubicon and are intent on crossing it, and Victorians have no assurances that the Government will stop there.

As our representatives vote, I trust common sense will prevail and that freedom of association and religion will remain after November 8.

Victorian Government and Birth Certificates

History cannot be changed.

This axiom used to be true, until now with the Victorian Government introducing a Bill, giving people freedom to alter their birth certificates, as much as once a year, should they feel the need.

Would you like to change your birth certificate? Perhaps the year in which you were born? What about the place of your birth? We are not yet able to make these changes, but you will be able to change the identity of your gender, should you decide that your preference no longer matches your birth gender.

Birth certificates were once sacrosanct, treated as definitive legal documents. What was once subject to facts surrounding the birth of a child, can now be repeatedly changed according to how individuals wish to reconstruct their sexual identity.

I want a pause for a moment and recognise that gender dysphoria is real, although rare. I am not without personal knowledge of Victorians who are genuinely struggling and suffering due to gender confusion, and they seek resolution and acceptance (which does not always mean being identified in ways contrary to their biological sex). I want to affirm their dignity and humanity, and would pray that they would come to know the God who loves and gives us the greatest and most fulfilling identity, of being in Christ and knowing him.

My intent is not to cause people greater consternation, but to explain that this Bill does not provide answers.

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The Bill’s scope includes transgender, gender diverse, and intersex persons.  Transgender for example, is not identical with gender dysphoria, although it’s inclusive of; trans covers a broad range of sexual expressions. The category of gender diverse technically means, well, almost anything. The point is, the Bill’s parameters are so broad as to include persons who are not suffering medically diagnosed sexual dysphoria, but include people who for many reasons wish to change their legal status.

The Government website summarises the Bill as follows:

The Victorian Government will remove barriers for trans, gender diverse and intersex Victorians seeking new birth certificates.

Delivering on another equality agenda election commitment, the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016 to be introduced in Parliament today removes the need for applicants to have undergone sex affirmation surgery before being able to apply for a new birth certificate.

Importantly, the Bill also ensures couples will no longer be forced to divorce if one partner wishes to apply to change the sex recorded on their birth registration.

Adults will be able to apply to alter the sex recorded on their Victorian birth registration and birth certificate.

Under the changes, an applicant will be able to nominate the sex descriptor in their birth registration as male, female or specify a gender diverse or non-binary descriptor.

The Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages will be able to refuse to register an amendment descriptor that is obscene or offensive, or if it is not reasonably established as a sex descriptor.

The Bill will also introduce a new process enabling parents or a guardian to apply to alter the sex recorded on their child’s birth registration.

The process will require the child’s consent. The application must be accompanied by a supporting statement from a doctor or registered psychologist confirming the child has capacity to consent, and that the change is in the best interests of the child. Children over the age of 16 will be assumed to have capacity to consent.

Why is this Bill problematic?

The social, familial, educational, and legal implications are enormous. For example,

1. Persons will be permitted to change their birth certificate every 12 months (according to the amended Section 30A). This is not an abstract over-the-top never-going-to-happen eventuality, for why would the Government provide this known loop hole if it is not designed to be used? And why, given the significance of this point, has it not been delineated by the Government in their press releases?

2. Apart from the legal and social confusion arising from persons changing their identified gender, perhaps annually, the Government has created a back door for same sex marriage:

A married man can choose to now identify as a women on his birth certificate, without having to divorce his wife. Or a unmarried woman may change her birth certificate to male and therefore be legally free to marry a woman, and should they choose 12 months later, change back to female without needing to divorce.

3. Gender confusion exists among a small but significant number of children. Research has demonstrated that as children mature their psychology will conform to their biology, and thus grow out of their confusion. For a tiny percentage, dysphoria continues into adulthood, but this is not the norm.

It is therefore not difficult to see the problems arising when young children and parents, due to misinformation being now taught in our schools about sexuality, are told that their little boy is in fact a girl and should identify as such (there are numerous examples of this happening in Victorian primary schools at the moment). What will happen is that children will have their birth certificates altered, and be treated as a different gender, only to realise in adolescence that they are in fact what their biology says. This will result in all manner of social, legal, and personal disorientation for these children and their families.

We need to appreciate how incredibly dangerous this Bill is to the health and well being of young Victorians.

4. Biologically, even with sex-change surgery, one cannot change their gender. Changing one’s birth certificate does not alter one’s identity, and thus it will create a dissonance between one’s legal status and one’s nature.

The births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016 is the latest step in a social engineering agenda that has been moving in the background for many years and is now being championed by Daniel Andrews.

There are many difficult and pastoral issues surrounding these issues, but the fact is, the now many legal and social changes that have been forced upon Victorians by the current Government will not relieve and lay aside issues surrounding sexuality, but will only heighten sexual confusion in our society.

Teaching boys and girls that are not boys and girls, and that they can choose and change their sexual identities, depending on how they are feeling for the day, is frightening and irresponsible; this is not education, and it is not responsible lawmaking.

The Bill was due for final consideration and vote in the Legislative Council earlier this month, but the Government has delayed the vote due to a lack of support by members.

Perhaps it would be helpful if the Government paused and considered the due concerns of their Parliamentary colleagues and of the broader public whom they are here to represent and serve.

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.