Appeasing Extremists


Safe Schools Review: National LGBTIQ Community and Parents Respond

The government’s trashing and eventual dumping of the Safe Schools program has nothing to do with the review conducted by Bill Louden, as a point by point comparison immediately reveals.

It is a complete cave in to the bigots on the right of his party. Instead of standing up like the man we thought he was, Malcolm Turnbull has lain down and let Gerorge Christensen trample all over him, us, and more importantly, our children.

How many LGBTI children will now self harm and suicide for want of help, comfort and support? We don’t know, because clearly,  we and our children are disposable. Here is a release from a group of activists working in this space.

18 March 2016
Safe Schools Review: National LGBTIQ Community and Parents Respond

The Australian LGBTIQ+ community is deeply disturbed at the severe changes to the Safe School’s Program announced today by Federal Education Minister Birmingham. Minister Birmingham’s position contradicts the detailed findings presented in Professor’s Louden’s Review Report which resoundingly supported the Program. Professor Louden found “All the official resources are consistent with the intent and objectives of the program… All of the lessons are educationally sound, age appropriate and aligned to the Australian curriculum.”

The evidence clearly demonstrates that bullying of these students causes deep harm and can lead to suicide. As a community we call upon politicians and community leaders to respond to this attack on the wellbeing of young LGBTIQ+ Australians. Furthermore, these negative effects can be directly mitigated by carefully constructed evidence based programs such as Safe Schools.

In response to Minister Birmingham’s decision Oscar, a 17-year-old Victorian student said “Safe Schools gives me a sense of security. Each day at school it helps me feel safe in my gender, it’s great teachers are educated and understand these topics, it really prevents bullying”

Parents are deeply concerned for their LBGTIQ+ children’s wellbeing. Jo Hirst, the mother of a gender diverse child and member of a parents support group, commented on the shocking potential outcomes of the Government’s decision “Some of our trans kids would literally rather die than go to school where the parents have made such a fuss about Safe Schools. The thought that some fellow students will opt out will reinforce the fear there is something ‘wrong’ with them and cause depression and school dropout. Malcolm Turnbull needs to find a way to pacify the bigots without hurting our children. This program has been so successful. It has saved lives. Leave it alone.”

The mother of 6 year old transgender girl commented “Kids are very open to being kind and accepting. To let parents pull their kids out means the kids who most need support or training will miss out. I feel shattered about the decision. The representatives of Safe Schools Coalition did a marvellous job in supporting myself and my child. Where do parents go now? This decision will only increase anxiety and stress for families. This is shameful, in today’s day and age!”

Jo the mother of 18 year old Jeremey who could not finish school due to bullying said “Without safe schools my son’s education was catastrophically impacted upon. This decision places transgender teens at risk physically, emotionally and academically. The changes proposed leave safe schools impotent, shame on you!”

The ACT parents of a child stated: “The worst thing is the confusion, hatred and disgust being levelled at our family and families like ours. I worry for his future, he is only eleven and the absence of understanding does put his life in jeopardy. This is not about political posturing. It is about safe schooling for every Australian child.”

The decision is not evidence based or in alignment with Professor Louden’s review. The review resoundingly supported the Safe Schools Program in its current form. We feel this decision by the government is not in the best interest of young sexually and gender diverse people and will detrimentally impact their health and wellbeing. Please show your support for vulnerable young people who are over represented with poor mental health and suicidality as a result of bullying.

Come to the Melbourne Support Safe Schools SNAP Action on Monday 21 March 6pm at the State Library of Victoria.
Jeremy Wiggins
Sally Rugg

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)