Safe Schools under fire from Chinese-Australian doctor Pansy Lai
Daily Telegraph, 5 October 2016
A CARLINGFORD woman who lead a 17,500 signature petition against the Safe Schools program will not give up calling for it to be scrapped, saying it discriminates against Chinese culture.
General practitioner Dr Pansy Lai started the petition, which gained more support than she expected, after noticing community concern about Safe Schools during the federal election campaign.
The federally-funded program is designed to prevent the bullying of homosexual and transgender children.
However, critics say its practical activities override parents’ right to educate their child on gender identity and sexuality.
Dr Lai first distributed the petition among her Chinese-Australian peers.
“I felt like all these voices needed to be heard,” she said.
“Safe Schools is promoting views on gender and sexuality that Chinese parents find extreme.
“Chinese people really value family relationships, and we expect to pass on our family values to the next generation. It’s a parent’s right to teach sexual education to our children.”
Dr Lai stressed the signatories were not affiliated to a political or religious group.
“The petition started from parents, and I need to make that clear,” she said.
“Parents are busy people. They’re not going to take time out of their day to oppose this unless they’re really concerned.”
More than 200 people from the group attended State Parliament last month to hear politicians debate the petition.
While Epping state Liberal MP Damien Tudehope tabled the petition, former principal and State Labor Lakemba MP Jihab Dib said banning the program would not help but a review may do.
Some MPs believed the petition was misguided as Safe Schools is not mandatory and parental consent is required.
Dr Lai said the petition did not claim the program was mandatory, but said it did not allow sufficient parental consent.
She said requiring consent for children to participate in Safe Schools activities was inadequate when the program changed the school culture.
“When you look at the Safe Schools material, it’s not talking about lessons it’s talking about the whole school environment.
“It’s changing school language, changing bathrooms — it’s changing the whole school environment.”
The petitioners say they want an anti-bullying program respectful of cultural and religious diversity.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli is due to provide a written response to the petition.
However, he told the Times there was no change to the Government’s position.
The revised Federal Government guidelines stipulate that parental consent is required for any student participation in Safe Schools program lessons or activities, Mr Piccoli said.
“NSW will continue to operate within the Australian Government guidelines,” he said.