Students directed to gay sex websites

The Australian, 24 October 2016

A federal government-funded website set up as a one-stop shop for student health and wellbeing has potentially exposed young people to explicit information about anal sex, gay saunas and searching for sex online.
The recently relaunched ­Student Wellbeing Hub has been promoting links to ACON, a NSW organisation specialising in HIV prevention and support that runs regular sexual health workshops aimed at gay and bisexual men.
ACON’s website also provides a list of “sex-on-premises venues”, which are clubs, backrooms and saunas where people pay to enter to have sex with other customers.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has demanded an urgent review of ­resources on the hub website after The Australian alerted him that users were being diverted to the ACON site.
Links to ACON were removed yesterday after questions from this newspaper.
Originally named the Safe Schools Hub in 2012, the Student Wellbeing Hub was relaunched this month, largely to clear confusion over its association with the unrelated Safe Schools Coalition. Although the site contains Safe Schools program materials, the information is among up to 400 other ­resources aimed at promoting ­student wellbeing.
Under Labor, the federal government committed $4 million to developing the Safe Schools Hub.
“The Student Wellbeing Hub is meant to offer age-appropriate materials for students and their parents and educators to ensure children feel safe and supported at school,” Senator Birmingham said.
“I have directed my department to review all third-party links to ensure only websites and materials that are age-appropriate are linked from the Student Wellbeing Hub.”
The inclusion of sexually explicit content within an Education Department resource will embarrass the federal government, which this year ­ordered an overhaul of the Safe Schools program following concerns the anti-bullying program exposed students to contested gender ideology and sexually explicit material.
The government ordered the Safe Schools ­Coalition to remove third-party links from its resources, including references to ­Minus18, the LGBTI youth group that co-created the curriculum, due to its promotion of gay nightclubs and sex shops.
Safe Schools’ resources do not promote links to ACON, but ACON claims to be a key partner of the program.
Originally established as the AIDS Council of NSW, ACON’s main remit is to stop HIV transmission among gay men. It is running a six-week Arse Class on anal sex and sexual health. Previous workshops have included Getting It Online, which covered the use of mobile apps to search for “mates, dates and sex”, and Cruising 101, a crash-course on gay saunas and sex clubs.
ACON’s website also lists up to a dozen sex clubs around Sydney that comply with its “PlayZone Sex on Premises Venue Code of Practice”, which aims to encourage safe sex.
Although the Student Wellbeing Hub classified the ACON site as targeted at parents of students in Years 10 to 12, there was nothing preventing or discouraging ­students from also ­accessing the link.
Coalition MP George Christensen said yesterday he was amazed that, following the review of the Safe Schools program, an ­official government resource for students could be found to provide links to “questionable materials”.
“It’s just bizarre,” he said. “I have no doubt that the majority of parents would not want their children being exposed to this.”
Nationals senator John Williams, who last week told Senate ­estimates in Canberra that the Safe Schools video resources appeared to continue to reference Minus18, echoed Mr Christensen’s concerns. He described the ACON ­material as “outrageous” and “not at all appropriate” for ­students.
A Department of Education and Training spokesman defended the hub: “This resource is widely referenced within the school community … Many of the ­resources on the hub are links to websites operated by other organisations. Every ­effort is made as far as is practicable to ensure resources ­intended for students are age-­appropriate.”
The spokesman confirmed the department had suspended the hub’s link to the ACON site pending a review. A spokesman for ACON did not respond to requests to ­comment.

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/education/students-directed-to-gay-sex-websites/news-story/4431f6afc9aa6e231a7d9322d6589440

The Categories: Safe Schools Coalition