Thanks Roz, But Time To Go

pic Bev Sykes

The Australian today published a picture of Roz Ward, head of the Safe Schools program, apparently trying to wrest the cap off the head of a Donald Trump supporter during a demonstration. The man was described as a ‘bystander’ at the event. What the truth is, we shall never know. This is, after all, the Australian. But that does not matter: the damage is done.

The paper, which has had Ms Ward in its sights since forever as it continues its campaign against Safe Schools, said of the incident:

It is… likely to reignite controversy over the program, which has divided parents, community groups and politicians due to its heavy emphasis on gender theory and promotion of the idea that gender and sexuality are “fluid” and “non-binary”.

It also, once again, in it’s usual overblown tabloid fashion, talked up Ms Ward’s Marxist credentials. This will only continue so long as she remains in position. Ward tries to paint herself as a firewall protecting the Safe Schools program.

“I’m happy to be the kind of shield for Safe Schools Coalition if somebody has to be,” Ms Ward said. “And I don’t think that me resigning would change any of the opposition.”

Actually, it would. By staying she functions as a lighting rod, an easy target, drawing and amplifying criticism. Her continued presence ensures critics will continue to smear and undermine the whole program, not just her. She should have graciously removed herself at the outset, citing the overriding need to protect the program and the children it, in turn, protects. But instead she chooses to remain.

It would have perhaps been wiser not to attend this demonstration in the first place. It would certainly have been wiser not to physically engage with this ‘bystander’, whatever the provocation. Knowing that she has, and will always have, a large target on her back as long as she stays at Safe Schools should have made her cautious about appearing or speaking in public at all, lest she cause further damage.

There is no denying she has done the LGBTI community an immeasurable service, which has been fulsomely recognised. Now it is time for her to do one more. It is now time to do what she should have done in the beginning, and graciously withdraw from any further involvement with Safe Schools, so that it can continue to do it’s essential work without the unnecessary distraction of her presence.

It’s not about you, Roz. It’s about the 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)