Push for NSW to axe Safe Schools program
SBS, Source: AAP. 23 Aug 2016
Premier Mike Baird is under pressure to axe the Safe Schools program across NSW as conservative MPs ramp up their fight.
More than 17,000 people have signed a petition urging the NSW government to scrap the controversial Safe Schools program that targets bullying.
Liberal MP Damien Tudehope will on Tuesday lodge the petition in parliament on behalf of the Australian-Chinese community, paving the way for MPs to debate whether the taxpayer-funded program should be dumped.
The conservative member for Epping, who has previously dubbed the program a “Trojan horse”, said the petition was signed by people from across Sydney, and not just in his electorate.
“You could definitely say this is the beginning of the end for Safe Schools,” he said.
“Any program which divides and polarises the community in such a way cannot possibly deliver the anti-bullying outcomes it proposes”.
Mr Tudehope said he had also received objections from the Korean, Lebanese and Indian communities, and would not be surprised if similar petitions arose.
“One thing that our migrant communities have in common is that they won’t allow anyone interfering with their parental rights and programs like Safe Schools represent an attack on the rights of all parents,” he said.
The petition comes after Christian Democrat MLC Reverend Fred Nile, who holds the balance of power, reportedly met with Premier Mike Baird to urge him to axe the program.
Mr Tudehope told AAP he would keep pressing the issue in NSW.
“This is a national issue and governments would be irresponsible to continue to ignore these very legitimate and reasonable concerns,” he said.
The Safe Schools program was set up to stop the bullying of gay and transgender students.
The federal government announced sweeping changes to the program earlier this year after an independent review found a number of lessons and content were inappropriate for children.
Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi said the apparent push against the education program from conservative NSW politicians was unwarranted.
She rejected claims the program was divisive and polarising, saying it was created by educators who understand the challenges faced by gender diverse children.
“We’ve seen these types of scare tactics used at a federal level,” Ms Faruqi said in a statement.
“Here in NSW we need to stand strong as a community and continue to support our vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities.”