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My Opinion Pieces

Parent's values and rights ignored

   Wednesday, 2 March 2016

THE balance is shifting against mainstream values in Victorian state schools under the Andrews Labor government.

Nothing is more critical for parents than sharing their values with their children; instructing them in right and wrong, and acting as role models.

Among the most sensitive of these values for children concerns sex and sexuality.

Yet some of our schools include in their curriculum the Safe Schools Coalition program, a program that usurps the parental role.

It is a program that seeks to indoctrinate children as young as 11 in an understanding of sex and sexuality.

It is a program that has attracted legitimate criticism across mainstream Australia.

In the guise of an anti-bullying course, the so-called Safe Schools teaching materials present children with confronting and manipulative information. That information is often at odds with the values those children are taught at home.

For example, the materials link to a website that says that “genitals and bodies in general don’t reflect anything about a person’s … gender”.

One video shown as part of the program bizarrely includes the following phrase: “They may take our penises, they may take our vaginas, but they will never take our freedom!”

Indeed, conventional arrangements in schools, such as recording each student as a boy or a girl, or having a boys’ toilet and a girls’ toilet, are labelled as “restrictive policies” by the Safe Schools Coalition.

Alarmingly, a Safe Schools brochure threatens schools that to “maintain restrictive policies around uniform, personal records and access to bathroom facilities could be breaking the law”.

The teaching materials are also developed in conjunction with an organisation called Minus18.

This group’s website offers advice to children on such matters as chest binding and penis tucking.

It also advocates the use of “puberty blockers”, drugs that require medical prescription and, for obvious reasons, are only effective for young children.

Under the Andrews Labor government, the Safe Schools program will be compulsorily rolled out to all Victorian state schools by 2018.

Parental consent will not be sought by the state government before this curriculum is taught in their children’s school.

In fact, parents will not be advised of any detail of the contents of the Safe Schools program despite its fiercest proponent, Premier Andrews, telling parliament “it does push the boundaries sometimes”.

The Coalition, both federal and state, is in favour of any government-funded program in schools that combats the scourge of bullying. Children need to be taught that bullying is wrong, for any reason.

However, we fear that the Safe Schools Coalition goes far beyond an anti-bullying document and has unfortunately morphed into radical gender theory curriculum and sexual identity politics.

These are issues that one might expect to be exposed to on a university campus — not taught to 11-year-olds.

This is, perhaps, not surprising given that one of the Safe Schools Coalition co-founders, Roz Ward, has conceded the program is part of a broader strategy to radically change our society.

In fact, Ms Ward told the Melbourne 2015 Marxism Conference that capitalists have imposed “cultural and moral norms around sex, marriage and the natural family that inhibit sexual freedom”, and that the Safe Schools program was a way of tackling these “norms”.

It is frightening that somebody with these warped views and belief in lurid conspiracy theories is provided with taxpayer-funded support to indoctrinate the nation’s children.

Accordingly, we support the Turnbull government’s review of the Safe Schools program and curriculum — if for no other reason — because the program is way out of step with the mainstream values of Victorians.

As Cella White, a concerned mother of four, told the Herald Sun in February: “It was announced in science class that boys could wear school dresses next year.”

She later went on to say in a radio interview, “I think it’s far too graphic” a teaching program for her young teenage son.

Ultimately, we believe that the state should not usurp the role of parents and make value judgements about what children are to be compulsorily taught.

Particularly on these highly sensitive subjects, without their parents’ consent and knowledge.

Sadly, in parliament last week, Bill Shorten and Daniel Andrews derided anyone as a homophobe or bigot for simply questioning the age-appropriateness and other aspects of the Safe Schools program.

In this respect we concur with the words of former prime minister John Howard, who said: “To say that anybody who is alarmed about this ‘Safe Schools’ booklet is a homophobe …(is) so out of touch.”

We are determined to be the voice for mainstream values and to defend the rights of ordinary parents to guide the values of their children on these highly sensitive matters.