Good news for NSW on scrapping gender theory sex ed.
Rebecca Urban, The Australian, 9 February 2017
NSW public school teachers have been banned from teaching gender theory in the classroom after an independent review into the state’s sex and health education resources.
Students will no longer be taught that gender is a “social construct”, or that sexuality is “non-binary”, occurring on a continuum and “constantly changing”.
An edict encouraging teachers to “de-gender” their language will also likely be scrapped, along with sexually explicit case studies and teaching aids such as the “Genderbread Person”, which promotes the idea that there are “infinite possibilities” of gender identity.
Announced in September, the review by professor Bill Louden followed reports in The Australian that a sex education resource, the Teacher Toolbox for delivering content related to diversity of sex, sexuality and gender, was promoting Safe Schools materials, possibly in contravention of federal guidelines.
Further revelations about Crossroads, the state’s compulsory sex education program for Years 11 and 12, also pushing gender theory, prompted the then education minister Adrian Piccoli to order a review into the research base and scientific underpinning of the material. An update on the review has been provided to teachers, detailing a list of resources that should not be used.
The list includes the 17-page Teacher Toolbox resource, the Affirming Diversity unit aimed at Year 10 and three of the sexual and gender diversity activities contained within the Crossroads program.
One of those, called Opposite Ends of the Pole, encourages students to consider various case studies, including “Joseph”, a man married with three children who “masturbates [and] fantasises only about men” as well as “Alex”, who had sex with girls as a teenager but has developed a relationship with a man since moving to a country town.
The department yesterday declined to comment on the specific recommendations of the review and it is not clear whether the ban stems from specific recommendations or is pending the department’s response to the review.
It is also not clear whether new Education Minister Rob Stokes will have a role in endorsing recommendations from the review.
Gender theory, and its creeping influence on government-run education, has been a controversial topic over the past year, having also underpinned the divisive Safe Schools program.
The concept of deconstructing gender derives from 1990s “queer” theory and is understood to be highly contested, even within the social sciences. According to the NSW Education Standards Authority’s statement of equity principles, curriculum and support materials should reflect evidence-based research.
The document also states, however, that teaching materials should provide “opportunities for students to evaluate and deconstruct gender and sexuality”.
Labor MP Greg Donnelly, who has campaigned for the removal of Safe Schools, called on the Education Department to release the latest review.
“It is important that the public gets to see what is in the review report,” he said. “Given the highly controversial statements that were contained in the teaching material, mums and dads are entitled to know what the review report says and recommends.”