Kids of 7 learn ‘gender diversity’ from Safe Schools Coalition
The Australian, May 14, 2016.
Children as young as seven have been exposed to lessons about “transgender experiences”, with the Victorian head of the controversial Safe Schools Coalition admitting having taught the secondary school program in primary schools.
In a lecture given by Safe Schools co-founder Roz Ward, which was captured via audio recording, she discusses an activity from the program’s main teaching guide, All of Us, claiming, “I did this with a Grade 3 class”. “It’s a great activity if you ever want to do it,” she tells the group of teachers.
In a separate recording, Ms Ward refers to visiting a primary school in regional Victoria to discuss gender ideology.
Last week, Ms Ward, who has a masters degree in gender studies but no teaching qualification, was photographed at RMIT in Melbourne lecturing a group of student primary school teachers about the program.
Neither audio recording, posted on the Stop Safe Schools Coalition Facebook page last month, indicates when the lectures were given.
A Safe Schools spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Ms Ward had undertaken primary school visits since March, when the federal government ordered an overhaul of the program.
However, the All of Us resource was created only with Year 7 and 8 students in mind.
Ms Ward has previously stated that with just four staff members Safe Schools did not have the time to go into classrooms, preferring to work with teachers to make schools more inclusive.
The activity that Ms Ward claims to have undertaken with a primary school class involves telling students that genderless aliens have arrived on Earth and want to know how to tell whether someone is male or female.
Students are asked to draw up lists of characteristics of each gender, but are told that the headings “male” and “female” are accidentally switched when the lists are handed to the aliens. A discussion then takes place about gender stereotypes and societal expectations of what it means to be male or female.
Titled Transgender Experiences, the lesson aims to provide students with an “opportunity to explore the topic of gender and gender diversity”.
“Many students may believe gender can only be either male or female and that they have specifically related behaviours and characterises,” says the guide, co-authored by Ms Ward.
“By completing this exercise, students will be able to explore the concept that gender exists outside this binary and that societal expectations of gender are shaped by the world in which they live.”
Ostensibly designed as an anti-bullying program, Safe Schools has attracted criticism from conservative quarters, particularly religious groups, for its politically correct approach to sex education and contested ideas about gender.
Critics have also hit out at the age-appropriateness of some of the material, an issue the federal government tackled following a recent review of the taxpayer-funded program.
A spokesman for Education Minister Simon Birmingham said yesterday that the changes announced in March would ensure Safe Schools material was restricted to use in secondary schools.
A spokeswoman for the Safe Schools Coalition said the group provided support to primary school staff “at their request”.
There are 75 primary schools nationwide that are currently signed up to the coalition.
“(Safe Schools) works with school leadership teams and teaching staff,” the spokeswoman said.
“All in-classroom resources are designed for Year 7 and older and delivered by schoolteachers. Schools decide themselves which resources are most appropriate and relevant for their students.”
The spokeswoman said the group had been working with the Department of Education to implement the government’s changes.