This report by Jenny Stokes from Salt Shakers:
After the rally, everyone walked to the Education Minister James Merlino’s electorate office after the rally, to present the petition to him. Well, actually to his office staff, since Mr Merlino was unavailable, attending a pre-arranged event in country Victoria.
There weren’t any protesters at the rally, though when we walked to Mr Merlino’s office, the bar across the road was playing loud music and a few people were outside the bar expressing support for SSCA.
Belgrave was also festooned with posters, banners and bunting advertising a ‘Safe in Belgrave – Safe Schools, Safe Communities, Safe Town’ event planned for this coming weekend, which has been organised to counter our rally. Of course, we ALL want ‘safe communities’ and safe schools’!
The MC at the rally was Peter Stevens, the Victorian Director of FamilyVoice, who has been writing about his concerns regarding the Safe Schools Coalition since it was first formed in Victoria in 2010.
All of the speakers spoke about the need to oppose ALL forms of bullying - and whatever form it takes, but reiterated that we need programs that deal with this properly, rather than one that only focuses on one aspect.
There were three speakers:
- Vickie Janson, of Australian Christians, outlined the ideology of the Safe Schools Coalitionand explained some of what is taught... Vickie noted that children are taught that there are various options for sexual activity, and highlighted the medical consequences of anal sex. Vickie also highlighted the fact that research shows a major factor in LGBTI suicide is ‘relationship problems’. (See further details below)
- Frith Mohring
spoke about her concerns as a parent and the impact of the materials and the curriculum content about sexual and gender diversity on children. Of particular concern is the fact that teachers are encouraged to include ‘sexual and gender diversity’ in ALL subjects, whenever they get a chance!
- Jenny Stokes, of Salt Shakers, spoke about the formation of the Safe Schools Coalition, and the ideological foundations of the organisation and the research they quote. She gave details of the resources published by the Safe Schools Coalition. Jenny then gave a brief overview of the material taught to students in the Year 7 ‘All Of Us’ curriculum, about sexual and gender diversity, and the way students are encouraged to become ‘activists’ for the LGBTI cause. (See further details below).
Some detail from the speeches…
The first speaker was Vickie Janson, the Senate candidate for Australian Christians, who spoke about who spoke about the need to oppose all bullying - she then spoke about the ideological principles behind the program. She apologised for being blunt, but explained that these messages are given to students in school by the Safe Schools Coalition.
Vickie quoted the following graphic and blunt statement that is on the Minus18 website, the group that wrote the Year 7 ‘All Of Us’ curriculum in conjunction with the Safe Schools Coalition – an organisation that students are directed to from the Safe Schools Coalition website: “penis in vagina sex is not the only sex, and certainly not the ‘ultimate sex’….”
Vickie explained that the consequence of this message is that children are encouraged to think that anal sex is acceptable. She said, “I don’t really want to talk publicly about anal sex, but as its promoted in schools as one expression among others, I hope all parents will understand why there should be a duty of care to alert young people to the possible dangers of engaging in anal sex. I have quite a long Fact Sheet
outlining many dangers but let me share just one serious consequence with you today which I doubt the Safe Schools program brings to the attention of students. Quote: “With repeated trauma, friction and stretching, the sphincter loses its tone and its ability to maintain a tight seal. Consequently, anal intercourse leads to leakage of fecal material that can easily become chronic. (Ie chronic leakage from the bowel).”
Vickie said, “That’s not something children probably imagine when asked to imagine a romantic same sex encounter but surely there is a duty of care to highlight the risks of different sexual behaviours if they are being equally validated.”
Vickie mentioned that advocates for the Safe Schools Coalition claim that they are ‘helping to prevent suicides’ of LGBTIQ youth. Vickie noted that “Dr. Delaney Skerrett and a team of researchers from the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) found that a leading cause of suicide among “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex” (LGBTI) people is stress from their romantic partners. Dr. Skerrett said… “We tend to assume that the psychological distress LGBTI people are often going through is due to family rejection. But it seems that’s not so much the case. The conflict seems to be largely related to relationship problems, with partners.” (Source of quote
Jenny Stokes spoke about the need to oppose all bullying for all reasons. She highlighted the National Safe Schools Framework, the Safe Schools Hub and the ‘Bullying-NO Way’ website, and the ‘National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence’.
The formation of the Safe Schools Coalition, the ideological foundations of the organisation and the people involved and the problems with the research they quote were all outlined.
Jenny then gave details of the wide range of resources published by the Safe Schools Coalition Australia, before giving an overview of the material taught to students in the Year 7 ‘All Of Us’ curriculum
, about sexual and gender diversity, and highlighting the statements on the ‘Handouts’.
On the ‘Sexual Identity’ handout, ‘straight’ is given as one of many options – the others, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual and queer – were all given equal weighting. In fact, ‘straight’ appeared in the middle of the list!
On the ‘Gender Identity’ handout, students are told that ‘gender is how you feel’ and that it is different to biological sex.
In the final three ‘All Of Us’ lessons, students are encouraged to become an ally, and then an ‘activist’ for the LGBTI cause. Jenny highlighted the fact that the students are encouraged to be activists by lobbying for things like gender-neutral toilets and rainbow crossings.
Jenny mentioned that the ‘All Of Us Guide’ recommends that students go to Minus18 as the primary resource, and there are close connections to the Minus18 group – especially the fact that the curriculum Guide says that ‘All Of Us’ was written jointly by Safe Schools Coalitionand Minus18.