Open Letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the Safe Schools Coalition Australia program

Subject: Open Letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the Safe Schools Coalition Australia program
Date: 7 Feb 2015

Dear Mr Abbott,
We deplore all forms of school bullying. But we are deeply concerned about the controversial Safe Schools Coalition
Australia (SSCA) program, launched on 13 June 2014 for use by schools throughout Australia.
This program claims to be an anti-bullying program, to make “schools safer and more inclusive”.
it does not address the problems experienced by the vast majority of school children who are regularly bullied
because of their body shape or size, school grades, race or ethnic background, religious beliefs or family income
– as shown by a study of 105,000 students.

The SSCA program focuses only on the small minority of “same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse young
It provides free resources, but only to help staff respond to “homophobia and transphobia”, and to support and
celebrate “gender and sexual diversity”.
Yet sexual orientation does not even rate among the top seven causes of bullying.
The term homophobia literally means “an extreme, irrational fear of homosexuality” but it is used to abuse and
intimidate anyone who believes, with good evidence, that homosexual conduct carries serious health and other risks.
For good reasons, the style book of Associated Press has told journalists to stop using the term.

The term transphobia is equally misused. A boy who feels like a girl is suffering from gender dysphoria (or
confusion). It is a complex condition, and schools need great care in dealing with the tiny percentage of students who
identify in this way. The condition is analogous to anorexia, when a dangerously thin child feels fat. Such children
need compassion, but not reinforcement of their confusion. Hormone treatment and surgery can change a person’s
appearance but cannot change their biological sex.
In reality, the program is thinly disguised propaganda to normalise homosexual behaviour and cross dressing
among students at an age when some may be confused about their identity. It inappropriately sexualises the classroom.
By encouraging students to “come out” as gay, lesbian or transgender, the program exposes students to serious physical
and psychological health risks. Encouraging confused boys to use girls’ toilets and change rooms (and vice versa) is
inappropriate and could lead to problems with sexual harrassment.
Federal funding for the program of $8 million over four years was authorised by the previous Labor government,
at the initiative of Senator Penny Wong.
In Victoria, where the program was first developed with funding from the previous Labor government, some high
school students were told that they can find out if they are “gay” by “trying it”.
In New South Wales, the “Proud Schools” pilot program (similar to the Safe Schools Coalition program) resulted
in reverse bullying in Burwood Girls High School. When students were pressured to support same-sex “marriage” by
signing a mural, girls who wanted to uphold true marriage – as the union of a man and a woman – were abused and
Puberty is an emotional time for many students who are still developing their sense of identity, and focusing attention
on homosexuality is unhelpful at this time. Most teens who experience same-sex attraction become opposite-sex
attracted in adulthood. They should not be falsely led to believe that their adolescent attractions are necessarily
fixed and permanent. Students with current same-sex attractions should not be encouraged to embrace activity linked
with serious health risks.
All students deserve a safe school environment, but the Safe Schools Coalition program is not the way to achieve
it. Emphasising homosexual bullying tells other bullied students that the reasons they are mocked or abused are not
as important, deepening their sense of injustice and despair. School communities should foster courtesy and respect
for all other students, not just some.
This year, $2 million has already been paid to the Safe Schools Coalition Australia for its dangerous program.
Please cancel the remaining funding and instead support programs that address school bullying more generally.

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