NEWS | Tess Holgate
Wednesday 27 January 2015
When Melbourne mother Cella White discovered that the Safe Schools programme was being introduced to her childrens’ school (Frankston High), she starting reading up on it, and discovered something shocking.
Talking to the Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton, Cella said she was surprised to discover that “it’s saying that your genitals don’t equal your gender. You get to decide what your sex is.
“I found [the Safe Schools programme] to be excessively sexual. I think it’s far too graphic, I think it’s age inappropriate. I think it’s dangerous.”
The Safe Schools Coalition is a federal government initiative aimed at reducing bullying of those who identify along the LGBTI spectrum, and according to their website, is “a national coalition of organisations and schools working together to create safe and inclusive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and families.”
One of the main teaching resources, All Of Us, is jointly produced by the Safe Schools Coalition and one of their partner organisations, Minus18, Australia’s largest youth-led organisation for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans youth. According to the Safe Schools Coalition website, “All Of Us has been developed to have a real impact on student attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and to encourage whole school change that affirms and supports the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school.” But the resource points teachers and students to extra material on the Minus18 website (among others), which includes advice for girls on how to bind their chest to stop the normal development of breasts, as just one example. Eternity believes that Cella is objecting to this more graphic material.
In addition, Cella said that there is no way to opt out of the programme.
“It’s a blanket approach, almost like forced cultural acceptance. All the kids have to be part of the Safe Schools Coalition. There is no opt out. I’ve been given no option to opt out my children.”
When a meeting with the school council didn’t yield any fruit, Cella took her objection to the Victorian Department of Education, but she said, “I feel like I’m getting nowhere.”
She tried to raise awareness on Facebook, but was met with “a lot of silence.” She thinks there might be a silent majority who agree with her, but admits that there are “a handful [of people] on my Facebook that would like to attack, and that’s their prerogative.”
Cella’s daughter was due to start year 7 at Frankston High this year, but her enrolment has been withdrawn, and she will be attending a Catholic school instead, because as Cella said, “Safe Schools, for me, is dangerous, inconclusive and unconvincing.”
The Australian Christian Lobby has been calling for a closer look at the Safe Schools program since early 2015.
Listen to the whole interview, here.