Schools told to teach kids that sex varies like the weather
The Australian, September 7, 2016
The NSW government has ordered an investigation into the Education Department’s launch of an official teaching resource that urges teachers to “de-gender” their classroom language and promotes activities that encourage students to think about sexuality as “non-binary”, or existing on a continuum “like temperature or the weather”.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli yesterday ordered his department to withdraw the sexual and gender diversity resource for teachers, which appears to have been heavily based on the Safe Schools program. Alerted to its existence by The Australian, he said he was “very angry” the resource had “got out”. “I have directed the department to take it down immediately and review the material and all links,” he said.
“Safe Schools materials are only to be used strictly in accordance with the revised guidelines established by the federal government. I am furious this policy has not been adhered to and have demanded a full explanation from the (departmental) secretary.”
Launched quietly this year, the 17-page teacher toolbox for delivering content relating to diversity of sex, sexuality and gender contains a list of resources the educators can refer to in their teachings. One recommended activity invites Year 10 students to consider a range of characters, such as “Joseph”, who is married with three children but “when he masturbates, fantasises only about men” and “is attracted to several of his male friends” and “Alex”, who had sex with girls as a teenager but developed a relationship with a man after moving to a country town.
Students are asked to determine each character’s sexuality and whether they fit into “traditional binary thinking” regarding sexuality.
Another promoted resource is a teaching program developed around the film Gayby Baby, which the Baird government banned last year. The teacher toolbox has many similarities with the Safe Schools Coalition, which has divided politicians, school communities and parents because of its promotion of the contested idea that gender and sexuality is fluid. It sparked a federal government review.
The toolbox sources the same research that helped to inform Safe Schools and refers to several Safe Schools resources and programs, including a guide to help teachers support a student to transition their gender identity at school.
NSW Family Planning, which helped develop the teacher toolbox, administers the Safe Schools program in that state.
The push for gender-neutral language in classrooms sparked an outcry this year when it emerged staff at Cheltenham Girls High School in Sydney had been asked to stop referring to students as “girls”, “ladies” and “women”. The concept is explained within another promoted resource, titled Affirming Diversity, which is another official departmental resource.
Teachers are advised to explain to the class that “sometimes people think in terms of opposites”. “This is called binary thinking,” the resource says. “In most cases where the concept is simple, like the temperature or the weather, this is not a problem because it doesn’t affect anyone else.
“For more complex concepts, like sexuality, binary thinking is not useful.”
Australian Christian Lobby head Lyle Shelton said if political leaders could not protect children from “rainbow activists”, there would be no stopping the marginalisation of parents if the Marriage Act was changed.
“Such is the fear of politicians of being branded a homophobe, the Safe Schools activists are now well and truly beyond the scrutiny and control of representative government,” Mr Shelton said.
NSW Premier Mike Baird last year faced a backlash, including from within his party, after he backed a decision by Mr Piccoli to intervene to prevent a planned screening of Gayby Baby, across state schools during school hours. A spokesman for Mr Baird yesterday denied there had been a ban and the Premier’s concerns had been that the film should not be aired in schools “in lieu of classes”.