Year 4 pupil ‘gender transitions’ at Melbourne school
The Australian, September 9, 2016
A Year 4 pupil at a primary school west of Melbourne is undergoing a gender transition, with the Safe Schools Coalition helping with the process at the school.
Roz Ward, co-founder and head of the program in Victoria, is expected to visit the school today to hold a workshop for the pupil’s class, after which the pupil plans to socially change to their chosen new gender.
Parents of the Year 4 class were advised of the workshop only days ago when the school sent home a letter. “Safe Schools are visiting … to assist us with the gender choice of a student who is currently transitioning,” the letter stated.
“The session will include learning that considers how students can be a good friend and ally to people (of) all genders.”
The Australian has chosen not to name the school because of privacy concerns.
Several parents have expressed concerns about the way the school has handled the matter, including the lack of notice and detailed information about what pupils will be taught in the workshop.
The Victorian arm of the Safe Schools Coalition, which has courted controversy for promoting contested theories around gender and sexuality, severed ties with the nationally convened body after an independent review in March.
Among the changes ordered by federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham was a requirement that distribution of Safe Schools materials be restricted to secondary schools only.
The Victorian government has refused to abide by the changes, however, and has taken over sole funding for the program in the state. It has also declared the program mandatory for secondary schools.
“I guess we just have lots of questions and we’re not really getting answers,” one parent of a Year 4 student told The Australian. “I’d like to know what my child will actually be taught in this workshop. This is a big deal and affects the whole school community.”
The acting principal has confirmed the school has been working with the Safe Schools Coalition in accordance with the state government’s gender identity policy.
She declined to answer questions about whether the child had parental support and whether the transition was being supported by medical professionals.
Social transition typically refers to a person “coming out” and making others aware of their gender identity. It is understood the child wants to be known by a new name fitting their new identity and will be permitted to use the toilets and change rooms appropriate for their new identity.
The issue of young people coming out as transgender has received publicity in recent months, coinciding with a big rise in the numbers of young people seeking to access treatment for gender dysphoria.
The Daily Telegraph reported last week that a four-year old preschooler in NSW had begun “transitioning” before attending their first day of kindergarten.
In Victoria, the Education Department’s policy states that “schools must support and respect a student’s choice to identify as their desired gender when this does not align with their designated sex at birth”.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino did not respond in time for publication, nor did Ms Ward respond to a request for comment.