Girls who are girls but not girls — It’s time to stop the Safe Schools subterfuge
Miranda Divine, The Daily telegraph, July 24, 2016.
THE story of Cheltenham Girls High School is a textbook example of the subterfuge involved in the controversial Safe Schools Coalition and how far education authorities and governments will go to preserve and conceal a program that subverts parents rights and values.
It is worth forensically examining how a school and a minister attempted to discredit a true story last week, how some media outlets gullibly accepted official denials, and how a group of courageous parents and teachers defied the cover-up anonymously to voice their concerns.
The fear felt by the whistleblowers, and the secrecy and euphemisms employed to disguise the true nature of the Safe Schools agenda really is of Orwellian proportions.
And the ultimate irony is that the principal of CGHS, Susan Bridge stood up at an assembly on Thursday to declare the school was being “bullied” by the media.
It all began last week with our story of how teachers at the all-girls school in northwest Sydney were asked in a staff meeting to stop referring to students as “girls”, ladies” and “women”, but to use “gender-neutral” language instead.
The story was based on detailed accounts from insiders who attended the meeting, but asked not to be identified.
More than half the meeting, which was held at the end of last term, after school hours, was spent specifically addressing the planned implementation of the Safe Schools program.
A video clip from the Safe Schools resources toolkit was shown at the meeting, depicting a transgender child who had changed from male to female.
“The ‘anti-discrimination act’, was projected across the board and it was stated that any teacher who did not comply with this act was considered a homophobe and law-breaker who would be receiving penalties as [is the case for] any other discrimination offences, and was not welcome by the school,” said someone who attended the meeting.
The tone of the two teachers running the meeting was described as “very authoritarian” and the presentation “included the request that all staff members within the school refrain from using terms such as ‘girls’, ‘ladies’ and ‘women’, and to replace those terms with ‘students’ and other non-gender specific terminology.
“This did not come from the principal, but from the two teachers running the meetings. They stated that teachers were to limit their usage of these terms to accommodate LGBTI students within the school… There was no way it wasn’t demanding,” an insider said yesterday.
All week, the NSW Minister for education Adrian Piccoli and school principal Bridge have denied our story and denied that CGHS is a member of the Safe Schools Coalition. This is despite the fact the CGHS was listed on the public register of NSW member schools on the Safe Schools Coalition’s website, but parents were never informed.
Mysteriously, that list of 135 NSW schools vanished from the website on July 8, so parents can no longer see if their children’s school has signed up. Thus far, member schools in Victoria and WA remain on the website.
Online media outlets, including the Guardian Australia and Crikey have gullibly accepted the official denials at face value.
Principal Bridge refused to answer our calls or respond to six detailed questions emailed on Tuesday in preparing our story and repeated on Friday. She released a public statement late Wednesday denying the story.
Minister Piccoli was provided with the same detailed questions on Tuesday, plus three additional questions.
He responded on Tuesday at 6.03pm with a generic single paragraph statement which did not deny the story or address the questions, and said the Department was investigating.
However early the next morning, he told radio 2UE and 2GB the story was untrue.
Piccoli cited “advice” from the Principal, who has gone into hiding, and he used the old “straw man” trick of denying things that were not in our story.
He even told 2GB’s Ben Fordham a fanciful story about that controversial staff meeting. He denied staff were asked to refrain from using gender-specific language, and said they were simply asked to use “appropriate language when referring to people with disabilities.
“There used to be words used to describe people with disabilities, we don’t use those any more… According to what I’ve been told it was a meeting about using appropriate language that doesn’t breach the anti discrimination act.”
Yeah sure, minister. Pull the other one.
Someone who actually attended the meeting said yesterday there was no mention of people with disabilities: “It was all about LGBTI and supporting students who are gender-confused.”
Safe Schools is a federally funded resource is presented as an “anti-bullying” measure, but it has been developed by self-described Marxist academics at Melbourne’s La Trobe University’s Sex, Health and Society Research Centre as a way of re-engineering children’s attitudes on sexual orientation and gender fluidity, without parental consent.
A long line of angry parents turned up at Cheltenham Girls High School on Wednesday morning demanding to know why they weren’t informed that the school had signed up to the controversial Safe Schools “anti-bullying” program.
After our story revealing that teachers at the school had been asked at a staff meeting to refrain from using gender-specific terms such as “girls” and ladies” to refer to students, so many parents want to tell me their story there hasn’t been time to talk to them all.
Among their concerns are that permission slips are not required for students to attend lunchtime meetings of the schools’ Queer-Straight Alliance, whereas parental consent is required for other activities, such as meetings of Christian or Muslim clubs at school.
Despite the Federal Government requiring “agreement of relevant parent bodies for schools to participate” in Safe Schools, “parental consent for student participation,” and “an official fact sheet … for parents,” the CGHS parents I spoke to have not heard a word from the school.
They have had to piece together information based on confidential conversations with their daughters and teachers.
“We have had no letter, there is no reference to that program on the school website, so for me and for a number of parent we are concerned that there has not been a consultative process and there hasn’t been an openness and a transparency,” Said Dr Wendy Moran, the mother of a Year 12 student.
One Muslim mother said she has been so concerned this year about the stealthy implementation of Safe Schools at CGHS that she and her husband are contemplating moving their daughter to a Catholic School.
“I do understand we’re all different and our family does respect differences. But it’s inappropriate to be bringing in all this information and highlighting gender [issues]. We are confusing kids, especially at this age when they have enough hormonal issues to deal with … As adults we need to provide a safe, peaceful environment so they can focus on their education.”
Concerned about possible repercussions for their daughters if they complain to the school, other parents at the elite, ethnically diverse, government school have appealed to politicians to step in.
Some Chinese parents have added their names to a bilingual anti-Safe Schools petition to go to NSW Parliament.
At least, after our story, the school has publicly pledged to continue to use the word “girls”.