Safe Schools: Don’t Panic, Get The Facts

Gay/Straight Alliance Schoolkids.

A note about Safe Schools, from someone who used to work there

A parent friend of mine in regional VIC reached out because she was concerned with some of the discussions she was seeing on Facebook, on the back of that new anti Safe Schools video from Christaliban front group You’re Teaching Our Children What? that seems to have gone viral. Many of your readers are also parents, who are probably connected to less progressive/informed networks than I am, so I thought it was worth sharing my response.

Get the facts

Firstly, all the facts are here -> Safe Schools Coalition. Funnily enough, all I had to do to find this information was google safe schools DET. A few points I’ll make

It’s not sex ed

Safe schools is not a sex ed program. None of the materials talk about sex or address sexual health in anyway. Yes, it’s possible to talk about queer people without talking about sex. It’s also worth noting that schools should be doing a better job talking about sex and relationships with young people, but I’m sorry to say it is not currently raining dildos and butt plugs in your kids classrooms. If it is, it must be some other program and I would encourage to have a friendly chat to your school about that.

Professional development for teachers

The main thing the program provides is professional development to teachers to help them create safe and inclusive classrooms because LGBTI kids exist and they are incredibly vulnerable.

Approved learning materials

The teaching and learning materials were approved by the Australian government and have been carefully mapped to the Australian curriculum. They are essentially a bunch of young people (17-21yo) talking about what it’s like being LGBTI and what their peers can do to be better friends. They’re totally harmless. They’re also entirely optional and schools can sign up to the program without having to teach them.

Ignore the scare campaign

Finally, that women’s video and all the other anti-safe schools guff out there is part of a well orchestrated fear campaign driven by political groups like the Australian Christian Lobby who have a thinly veiled homophobic and transphobic agenda. Essentially, they don’t want teachers in schools telling kids that it’s ok to be gay or trans so they’re making shit up to try and kill the program. Unfortunately it appears to be working.

Why the panic now?

Another point worth making is that the program has been running in Victoria for nearly 8 years. Why this maddening frenzy now I wonder?

Please share

Please share this with your parent friends. People need to know that by sharing this woman’s video and any other propaganda they are actually spreading lies and fear and jeopardising the safety of thousands of vulnerable kids.

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)