Children sexualised in school diversity programs
The Australian, April 15, 2016
The sexualisation of children is not a method of domestic violence prevention. At worst it is an insidious form of abuse, often used by pedophiles to groom their victims. Yet Daniel Andrews’s government has funded another program in schools that encourages adults to sexualise children and expose them to sexually explicit materials. Such behaviour violates common standards that protect children from premature sexualisation but the program is presented as an exercise in diversity and inclusion.
As education editor Natasha Bita revealed on yesterday’s front page, the Andrews government has dedicated $21.8 million to extending the Building Respectful Relationships program, funded on the basis of domestic violence prevention. Its objectives are to educate students about “gender, violence and respectful relationships” as part of “state and federal initiatives to prevent violence against women”. Like the Safe Schools Coalition program, which celebrates a neo-Marxist queer political agenda, Building Respectful Relationships promotes sexual content of an extreme nature.
Despite a stated aim to work against premature sexualisation, BRR encourages explicit discussion of sexuality, including writing personal advertisements and anal sex. Lessons also cover transgenderism and deconstructing gender. Students are coached to use the gender-neutral term partner instead of boyfriend and girlfriend to be “inclusive of gay and lesbian partnerships”.
The age of consent across Australian jurisdictions ranges from 16 to 17 and Unicef recommends that minors abstain from sexual activity. However, the BRR program acculturates children to sexualise themselves and their peers, presenting adolescent sexuality as the norm. Children are asked to answer: “Who do you think has responsibility for making decisions about sex and romance in your relationships?” In another, child sexual activity is assumed: “How do you work out and negotiate having sexual contact within your relationship or in your life?”
The Andrews government plans to extend the program to kindergartens and primary schools. While high-performing school systems in the Asia-Pacific focus on developing literacy, numeracy and memorisation, activists are dumbing down the Australian school curriculum. OECD reports rank Australian schoolchildren 19th in maths and 14th in literacy. More than one-third fail to meet proficiency standards in reading and numeracy. The children likeliest to suffer from curriculum introduced under the auspices of diversity and inclusion are those from disadvantaged backgrounds whose parents lack the means to opt out of state schools.
It is unacceptable that a program funded by government on the basis of domestic violence prevention should promote child sexualisation. But it is unconscionable that a government would knowingly promote lessons that give effect to a dissociative response that is common to victims of child sex abuse. In a lesson supposed to provide “different perspectives on sexual intimacy”, children are used in a role-playing exercise so psychologically harmful they may need to “de-role” afterwards. In one of the lessons, teachers are warned that as a result of program content, students may have “slipped into a state of distress or disassociation”. Teachers are instructed to “de-role” children by asking them to state their names and where they are.
Parents concerned about their children being sexualised and dissociating in class are unlikely to find support among those who produced the Safe Schools and BRR programs. As reported in March, activists who designed the Safe Schools program dismissed possible parental concerns, stating: “Parents don’t have the power to shut this down.” The Victorian government appears to concur. It vowed to continue funding it despite a commonwealth review that raised strong concerns.
As a society, we rightly denounced behaviours exposed by the royal commission into child sex abuse as abhorrent and intolerable. Our refusal to tolerate child sexualisation should be universal. The fashionable fronts of sexual diversity and social inclusion are no excuse for abuse.