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Gender bending in our primary schools

By Greg Donnelly - posted Thursday, 11 February 2016


With great excitement and expectation the new school year has just got underway for hundreds of thousands of children across the state. Little do parents know that without their knowledge or consent controversial and contested sexuality and gender ideology, along with highly sexualised material, is going to be placed before their children in the guise of an anti-bullying program.

The so-called Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA) program has so far flown under the radar without much detection. It has $8 million of federal funding behind it and the stated purposes of the program is to reduce school bullying. So what could be wrong with it?

Families in this state may be surprised to find that the partner organisation delivering the program to both primary and secondary students is Family Planning NSW. Indeed, our kids can click directly onto the Family Planning NSW website via the SSCA website.

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It may be the case that the parents of primary and secondary school children in this state are perfectly comfortable, indeed supportive, of their kids being directed by their teacher onto the Family Planning NSW website for information and advice. The point is that they do not know it is happening. I would argue that parents are being deliberately left in the dark by schools and those promoting the program.

"Only you know whether you are a boy or a girl. No one can tell you." Mums and dads across New South Wales may be surprised that this is one of the key messages embedded in a book being promoted as a teaching aid on the SSCA website.

The book, The Gender Fairy, is being recommended for children four years of age and above. It is designed to be read aloud in the classroom and includes notes for teachers to aid discussion and learning. The story is about two transgender children who apparently are not "fluid" and make the choice to socially transition. A key narrative of the story is that it is up to the children to decide where they are on the gender spectrum. As the Gender Fairy says, "No one can tell you." An interview with the author of the book, Jo Hirst can be found under the "Latest News and Events" icon on the SSCA website.

Now it may well also be the case that mums and dads across the state are pleased that their primary school aged children are being enlightened about the finer points of gender fluidity by the Gender Fairy. However, for the vast majority of parents, they will never know. School principals and teachers are refusing to inform parents not just that they have signed the school up to the Safe Schools program but also, what is in the material being presented to their children.

The NSW Department of Education has for some time had a policy relating to dealing with controversial issues in schools. It says that: "Consideration of controversial issues in schools, whether by the use of teaching and learning material or by way of views expressed by teachers or visiting speakers, must comply with the principle that schools are neutral grounds for rational discourse and objective study. They are not arenas for opposing political views or ideologies." Surely the following question must be asked. If the NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli knows about these matters, and he has had them drawn to his attention, how can he just sit on his hands and do nothing?

Parents are the primary educators of their children. They have an absolute right to know what their children are being taught in schools. It is about time they were told why their children are being subjected to such sexual and gender ideology by their principals, teachers and those appointed on contracts to introduce and propagate this material. The Foundation for Young Australians, as national convenor of the program, should also be served with a please explain notice. The federal along with state and territory Education Ministers also have some serious explaining to do. And in doing this explaining let us not try and wrap all of this up in the guise of some sort of anti-bullying initiative. Bullying of any kind in our schools be they public, Catholic or independent is unacceptable behaviour – full stop. There should be robust policies and procedures in place to deal with it, no matter what form it takes. Indeed, that is presently the case. If those policies and procedures require examination and possible refinement then good, let's get on and do it. But in doing this, let us protect all children.

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About the Author

Greg Donnelly is a Labor Party member of the New South Wales Legislative Council. He has been in the Legislative Council since February 2005. He is currently the Deputy Opposition Whip in the Legislative Council. He is the Chair of General Purpose Standing Committee No. 2 and Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Social Issues. He is also a member of the Privileges Committee, the Committee on Children and Young People, the Select Committee on the Legislative Council Committee System and the Select Committee on Human Trafficking.

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