Gender-theory targets set on sexist preschoolers

Rebecca Urban, The Australian, 28 March 2017

Four-year-olds who exhibit sexist behaviour at preschool are the ­latest targets of the Victorian government’s crusade against family violence, with early childhood ­educators to be taught how to eradicate gendered norms and stereotypes from the classrooms.

The Victorian Education and Training Department will train 4000 early childhood educators during the next year to implement respectful relationships programs in preschools. It is seeking a supplier to develop and deliver a course that will increase educators’ knowledge of the role of “gender equality in preventing family violence”.

According to a tender document released last week, research has shown that children become aware of “gender expectations” and try to “fit within these gendered norms” by the time they are in preschool. “As young children learn about gender, they may also begin to enact sexist values, beliefs and attitudes that may contribute to disrespect and gender inequality,” the document says.

“Professional learning will ­increase the capacity of early childhood educators to understand and implement respectful relationships and gender equality into their program delivery.

“It will build the capacity of ­educators to use reflective practice to critically evaluate their work with children using anti-bias ­approaches specifically regarding gender bias.”

The push into preschools is the latest element of the Andrews Labor government’s $21.8 million Respectful Relationships package for schools, inspired by the Royal Commission into Family Violence. Unveiled late last year, the package attracted widespread criticism for pushing the concept of “male privilege” and ­“hegemonic masculinity” into classrooms, and for failing to consider the multiple, complex drivers of family violence, which also has an impact on men and boys.

Australian Catholic University senior research fellow Kevin ­Donnelly has been critical of the Victorian government’s interpretation of Respectful Relationships, which he believes is laden in gender and sexuality theory similar to the Safe Schools program. Dr Donnelly pointed out that the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, which guides early childhood professionals in the state, already stressed the importance of encouraging respectful relationships in the preschool setting as well as avoiding practices that directly or indirectly contribute to gender inequality, prejudice and discrimination. “Why are we indoct­rinating kids to believe that being a boy, or being a girl, is abnormal? It’s actually quite dangerous,” he said. “This is simply extending that gender and sexuality theory to preschool and kindergarten.”

The new program will cost taxpayers $3.4m. Existing materials aimed at the foundation level cautions teachers against phrases such as “boys will be boys’’and reinforcing stereotypical labelling “boys are strong, girls are gentle”.

Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos defended the early childhood program, saying it would be appropriately designed. “The early years are an important time to start helping children develop a secure sense of self and healthy, respectful ­relationships — this will help prevent family violence in the long-term,” Ms Mikakos said.

Liberal families spokesman Georgie Crozier said the government should “let kids be kids”.


Melbourne high school teacher says she would refuse to teach ‘lewd’ safe schools and respectful relationships program

Herald-Sun, 30 October 2016

A MELBOURNE high school teacher says she would refuse to teach “lewd” material in the Victorian government’s mandatory respectful relationships program to be introduced in all state schools next year.

Moira Deeming, a teacher and mother-of-three, said she was shocked by the content and would rather be fired from her job than teach such “sleazy, unnecessary drivel” to her students.

Ms Deeming, 33, said educating children as young as 12 about porn and getting them to have classroom discussions about masturbation and sex was not appropriate and would not help to stop gender-based violence and discrimination as the program intended.

Under the program, children as young as prep are also being introduced to same-sex relationships through children’s books, including Tango Makes Three, a tale about two male penguins who adopt a baby penguin.

The book has been banned in Singapore and after parent outrage was scrapped from some school libraries in the UK and the US. It also featured in the most complained about books in America over five consecutive years for “promoting a homosexual agenda”.

“I feel that this program is bullying male students and stigmatising and stereotyping them — the absolute opposite to what it is supposed to do,” she told the Sunday Herald Sun.

“It really does build up stereotypes. It doesn’t tear them down.

“If I was asked to teach it, I couldn’t let it out of my mouth. I’d have to be fired.”

Debate has raged about the content, particularly how students are taught about “male privilege” and that masculinity is associated with higher rates of violence against women, since the government made public the classroom resources of its Resilience, Rights and Respectful Relationships program earlier this month.

The $21.8 million program, a recommendation from the royal commission into family violence, also offers explicit videos to students entering secondary school giving sexual advice in an upbeat way, including that “you don’t have to have an ‘inney’ and an ‘outey’. You can have two inneys or two outeys” to have sex.

Also in the teaching tools for prep students, teachers are recommended to get further information and activities from the learning resource All of Us from the controversial Safe Schools program, which is aimed at much older students in secondary school to teach and increase students’ understanding and awareness of gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex topics.

In this, one classroom activity suggests dividing the students in half and asking one side to imagine they are 16 and in a same-sex relationship; and the other half in a heterosexual relationship, before asking a series of questions, including would they feel comfortable telling their parents about their relationship.

Ms Deeming, who is a member of the Liberal party, has joined concerned parents and politicians to call on the Andrews Government to review the age appropriateness of the program’s content.

In the upper house this week, Democratic Labor Party MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins said the program focused on a “misguided feminist and gender ideology”, alienating and shaming boys by portraying masculinity as bad and women as always being victims.

Metropolitan Region Upper House MP Inga Peulich told parliament it was a “light version” of Safe Schools that targeted younger children.

Safe Schools is only mandatory in high school, while respectful relationships will be rolled out to all year levels from prep to Year 12.

“Victorian parents are concerned about the age appropriateness of the content being presented,” Ms Peulich said.

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling called the program “radical” and said the biggest concern is that parents had not been consulted or given consent.

“Parents want their kids to fundamentally learn how to read, write and count. Parents wouldn’t have expected content on transgender as part of a family violence program,” he said.

But Education Minister James Merlino stood by the program in its entirety and called on those opposing it to “stop playing politics” so violence against women could be stopped.

What kids will learn and when


■ Challenging male and female labels by saying that girls can be firefighters and boys receptionists

■ Reading materials to reflect diverse families, including And Tango Makes Three about two gay penguins who adopt a baby penguin

Years 1-2

■ Games to teach that some kids have two mums or dads

■ Encourage children that whether male or female, you can play football, be a doctor or stay home to look after kids

Years 3-4

■ Understanding the difference between sex and gender

■ Looking at gender norms and stereotypes

■ Examining the effects of gender-based violence

Years 5-6

■ Gender identity and whether gender is “born or made”

■ Learning the difference between same-sex attracted, heterosexual and transgender

■ Taught about power and division between men and women, including unequal pay

Years 7-8

■ Class videos giving sexual advice, including when is the right time for sex

■ Dangers of porn and sexting

Years 9-10

■ Learning about gender, power, violence and respect

Years 11-12

■ Introduced to terms such as gender fluid, pansexual, cisgender and transsexual


Diversity programs are indoctrination, not education

Herald Sun, 27 October 2016

WHEN Joan Kirner was premier, Victoria was known as the Albania of the south. She was a member of the ALP’s Socialist-Left faction and implemented radical policies like abolishing technical schools and the competitive, academically based year 12 Higher School Certificate.

Premier Daniel Andrews is also of the Socialist-Left and Marxist-inspired programs like the Safe Schools LGBTI and Respectful Relationships programs addressing domestic violence prove that Victoria, once again, is embracing radical, cultural-Left policies.

Costing $21.8 million and launched by Education Minister James Merlino, the Respectful Relationships program, as of next year, will be compulsory for all government schools from kindergarten to year 12.

The program involves “all school students and all school staff members, teaching and non-teaching” and “parents, community educators, school council representatives and others”. Respectful Relationships must be taught in every subject, including “gender equality statistics in maths classes, or analysing changing gender relationships in history or literature studies”.

So much for reducing the crowded curriculum and freeing teachers to focus on the essential knowledge, understanding and skills in subjects such as English, mathematics, history, science, music and art.

After watching my alcoholic father beat my mother when I was a child, there’s no doubt that domestic violence is a significant issue — but the reality, like with the Safe Schools program, is that Respectful Relationships is more about indoctrination than education. Children as young as seven and eight are taught that women are the only victims of domestic violence and the reason is because boys and men are violent and misogynist.

Australian society, so the program argues, suffers from “masculine organisational cultures and masculine sense of entitlement” and that leads to “social norms and practices that are violence supportive”.

The program also teaches that girls and women are weak and defenceless because of gender inequality under which they are forced to be submissive.

Even though women have all the same rights as men and they outperform boys at year 12 and completing university studies, the Respectful Relationships material argues that “women and girls continue to experience inequality and discrimination in many important parts of their lives”.

The program says females suffer because males are guilty of “hegemonic masculinity” and, as a result, are “heterosexual, tough, athletic and emotionless”. Prevailing views about gender also lead to “the control and dominance of men over women”.

As argued by psychologist Bettina Arndt, ignored is the research evidence that concludes “domestic violence is not a gender issue (as) both men and women are actively involved in most violence in the home, women often initiate violence and it isn’t simply self-defence”.

Also ignored, according to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, is that 25 per cent of domestic violence victims are men. There are many other factors, apart from gender, contributing to domestic violence, including poverty, alcoholism, anxiety and depression.

Similar to the radical Marxist-inspired Safe Schools program that the Andrews Government is also making compulsory for all schools, Respectful Relationships adopts a radical view of sexuality and gender. According to both programs, being male or female is a social construct and primary-age children are told that because gender is fluid and limitless, they can be whatever gender they want.

Schools are also told that if boys self-identify as girls, they should be allowed to use the girls’ toilets and girls’ changing room.

EVEN though 98 per cent of Australian men and women identify as male or female, children are warned against believing it’s normal for males and females to like one another (described as “heteronormativity”).

Even worse, Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships give the impression that significant numbers of children suffer gender uncertainty and confusion. Ignored is the research that shows that with very few exceptions, gender is binary and one’s birth sex is the dominant factor.

As noted by Sydney University’s Professor Patrick Parkinson, to argue otherwise is “odd and unscientific” as it is wrong to argue individuals can decide their gender “without reference to your physical and reproductive attributes”.

Professor Parkinson, as does research associated with the US-based John Hopkins Hospital, also concludes that while children and adolescents might experience gender uncertainty after they reach adulthood, the vast majority accept the gender listed on their birth certificate.

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and co-chaired the Review of the Australian National Curriculum