OPINION | Peter Abetz, WA state Liberal MP
Friday 12 February 2016
Why All Of Us will not help all of us
A new taxpayer-funded educational resource – called ‘All Of Us’ – is now available for Australian teachers and students. In a recent analysis (edited below), WA state MP Peter Abetz explains why it could do more harm than good.
All Of Us was produced by the Safe Schools Coalition Australia and Minus18. It is aimed at Year 7 and Year 8 students (age span 11-14) and can be downloaded from www.safeschoolscoalition.org.au
The program teaches students about gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex topics through videos of the personal stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) young people. Schools are encouraged to use these videos in almost every subject: Health and Physical Education, English, History, Humanities, Legal Studies, Civics and Citizenship.
All Of Us aims to “recognise and celebrate” each person’s “unique sexuality, gender identity or intersex status”. It claims that 10% of people are same-sex attracted; 4% are transgender or gender diverse; 1.7% of people are intersex; 75% of LGBTI students experience abuse or discrimination.
These statistics are over-stated, or need to be seen in context. Most obese teens are regularly abused and bullied because of their size, for example. Where is their program?
The claim that 10% of Australian high school students are LGBTI comes from the unreliable 2013 5th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health. Most participants were volunteers, and some were recruited via gay websites. There was no way of verifying the ages of those who responded to the online version of the survey, or discounting those who responded multiple times in order to skew the results.
By contrast, a 2013 phone survey of a very large random sample found that only about 3.5 per cent of Australians aged 16-59 identify as homosexual, bisexual or not always heterosexual.1
There is no scientific basis for the assertion that 10% of high school students are same-sex attracted.
Does All Of Us really promote respect for all?
The program aims to increase respect for LGBTI people. It makes no attempt to teach respect for those who, for cultural or religious reasons, consider LGBTI sexual activity harmful or unacceptable, or who consider heterosexuality to be the norm for society.
Some of the lesson plan problems
Lesson 1 talks a lot about respecting others, stating that “we respect other people’s opinions even if they are different to our own”. However it gives no guidance on how to respect those who, for cultural or religious reasons, consider the LGBTI sexual activity unacceptable.
Lesson 2 defines sexual diversity and attacks homophobia. It says sexual identity is “who you love, like and hookup with”. Hookup is slang for having sex – yet this lesson is designed for Year 7 and 8 students, who are too young to legally engage in sexual activity. Most parents would not want their children to be taught that “hooking up” is normal at their age.
Lesson 3 says that young people often realise that they are lesbian, gay or bisexual between the ages of 11 and 14, and that the average age for “coming out” is 16 years old. There is no mention of the large international surveys that show up most same-sex attracted teens later identify as heterosexual.2 This lesson is likely to increase the confusion of students who are struggling to find their identity.
Lesson 4 teaches that “sex” is about the body you are born with (male, female or intersex), while “gender” refers to “the way you feel on the inside”. This lesson seeks to normalise gender dysphoria. We do not help anorexic students by normalising their self-perception of being fat: therapy aims to help them see reality. The lesson does not mention the fact that 70-80% of young people who experience gender dysphoria outgrow this as they mature.3
Lesson 5 teaches that “there (is) a whole range of human bodies that are sometimes between what you might expect a boy or a girl to look like… This is completely normal and natural…” Definitions of the “intersex” condition vary, but those with such chromosomal or hormonal abnormalities generally identify with the sex they are assigned. Children should be taught to be respectful of people who have this extremely rare condition. It is confusing to describe it as “normal”.
Lesson 8 encourages students to evaluate the school environment and advocate for change – to the curriculum, toilets (to gender-neutral), pro-LGBTI library books, LGBTI posters and promotions throughout the school.
Australia’s cultural diversity should be celebrated – but All Of Us and other Safe Schools Coalition materials are intolerant of our cultural and religious diversity. They should not be imposed on students in our schools.
The 2013 Australian Study of Health and Relationships found that 3.3% of men and 3.6% of women aged 16-59 said they were not exclusively heterosexual.: www.ashr.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/sex_in_australia_2_summary_data.pdf
Savin-Williams, Ritch C and Geoffrey L Ream, 2007, “Prevalence and stability of sexual orientation components during adolescence and young adulthood.”Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol 36, Issue 3, pp 385-394.
Research in the US, Netherlands and New Zealand shows that 70-80% of high school students who have homosexual or transgender feedings lose these feelings as they mature. Dr Goosens of Perth’s Princess Margaret Hospital Transgender Clinic stated: “Eighty percent of kids who present in child hood with that (transgender) disorder, don’t persist.” Sunday Times, 14/06/2015.
Originally published in VoxPoint, the national magazine of FamilyVoice Australia