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Why are we deafened by the silence?

By Greg Donnelly - posted Wednesday, 19 September 2012

When it comes to making sense of what politicians say, it is just as important to focus on what is not said, as much as what is actually said. In fact, it could be argued that, at least in some cases, appreciating the full implications of what is not being said is more important.

A case in point are the debates in the federal parliament on same-sex marriage. I say debates because in fact there are four going on concurrently. There are two bills before the House of Representatives and two bills before the Senate. On my reading of things it appears to be a competition between certain Labor Party members and certain Greens members over who will get their bill voted on first.

For those advancing the case for change it is interesting to note how almost all of them, no matter what their political affiliation - Labor, Greens, Liberal, National and Independent – are studiously refusing to acknowledge, let alone concede, the practical and very real consequences of amending the Marriage Act. Certainly some of those advancing the case for change are suggesting that there will be no or little impact on the public at large, resulting from legalising same-sex marriage.


One important area where some people are pretending that it will be business as usual is education, in particular primary and secondary schooling.

To be making the claim that nothing or very little will change seems rather odd to me. It must be said that those pursuing same-sex marriage, especially activists with a well developed sense of homosexual ideology, have a very clear vision of where they want to take the matter in our schools. If you look at the literature, and there has been a fair bit written over the years, the intention with respect to influencing the school curriculum and what is taught and presented to children in schools is no secret.

In an endeavour to try and grasp the possible implications for the education of children, I thought that it may be worth having a look at some overseas experience.

With less than ten minutes searching on the Internet one soon finds various references to the New Day Digital production "It’s Elementary – Talking About Gay Issues in School". You can stream it for 21 days for US$4.99. Or you can purchase it from Amazon for US$99.

This documentary has won several awards at gay and lesbian film festivals, and although it was produced in 1996, it is still being used as a teacher resource in Australia. The message is clear: children must be taught that homosexuality needs to be accepted and endorsed. Opposing this is unfair, uncharitable and ultimately discriminatory.

The film is well-made that some opponents of same-sex marriage have paid it the back-handed compliment of selecting clips from it and provocatively labeling them "Homosexuals brainwashing our children in elementary schools".


The documentary provides at least some insight into how, with the legalisation of same-sex marriage, our children may be engaged about sexuality at school. Explicitly within the content and the messaging, sexuality of whatever nature is deemed to be inherently equal and morally valid.

Anyone interested in the same-sex marriage debate in federal parliament should have a look.

Afterwards, I invite those advocating for the change to the Marriage Act to explain to me and the public why they believe it is appropriate that children in our schools should be presented with this material and information.

I issue this challenge not to be provocative, scaremongering, or to suggest that one cannot make a case for teaching this material. I personally do not believe that it should be taught in schools; others would disagree.

It would be interesting to hear some – any! – of our federal politicians speak about the implications of changing the definition of marriage on the education of our children. Remaining silent does not address the issue, it just raises questions.

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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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