Published: Tuesday 7th October 2014 - Updated: Friday 24th April 2020
Summary: National program aims to create safe and supportive school environments for same-sex-attracted, intersex and gender-diverse people.
A controversial $8 million Safe Schools initiative, which aims to ensure that "gender and sexual diversity are supported and celebrated in all areas of the school community" across Australia, was launched in Melbourne on Friday, June 13, 2014.
The program, which has been operating in Victorian schools for the past four years and funded by the state government, was described at the launch as "the first national program funded by the Australian Government with the aim of creating safe and supportive school environments for same-sex-attracted, intersex and gender-diverse people".
Attending the launch were Coalition Senator Scott Ryan (parliamentary secretary to the federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne); Labor Senator Penny Wong; Australian Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson; and more than 300 people from all Australian states and territories.
Jason Ball, Australia's first openly homosexual AFL player and Beyond Blue Ambassador, was commissioned as the Safe Schools Coalition's first Ambassador.
Senator Scott Ryan, representing the Coalition government, praised the Safe Schools initiative, declaring: "When we reflect on how far social attitudes have evolved in just a few short decades, I think this should give us all an incredible sense of optimism that expectations around appropriate behavior will lead to different attitudes over time."
Tim Wilson, representing the Australian Human Rights Commission, said that, although no law could abolish bigotry, the Safe Schools program marked the beginning of ensuring a culture of respect. "Legislation is not enough," he said. "There needs to be a culture of inclusion, and that's where the Safe Schools Coalition comes in."
The federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, was unable to attend the June 13 national launch of the Safe Schools program, but he has been warmly supportive of it since the Abbott government came to power last year.
In a speech at the East Torrens Primary School in Adelaide on March 21, Mr Pyne announced: "I'm here... to be part of the national day of action against bullying and violence in schools and to mark Harmony Day.
"Harmony Day is a national day, of course, to celebrate our diversity as a nation...
"Today the Federal Government can announce that we are moving to stage three of the Safe Schools Hub that can be found on the Students First website, with of course links through to Education and other websites."
A website for the Safe Schools Coalition Australia proclaims: "Change is coming. Support gender diversity and sexual diversity in your school."
The Australian Family Association, while it has always supported the principle of combating bullying, has nevertheless strongly opposed the Safe Schools Coalition's push to promote "gender diversity and sexual diversity" in schools.
A recent Galaxy Poll, commissioned by the AFA, found that 64 per cent of the Australian public are opposed to the teaching of GLBTI (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex) issues in kindergartens and schools.
The blueprint: Safe Schools Coalition Victoria
Supporting Sexual Diversity in Schools: A Guide (PDF) is a 16-page booklet produced by Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) and distributed by the Victorian Government to state schools.
Here are some booklet extracts:
Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) describes itself as "dedicated to creating safer educational environments supported by Rainbow Network Victoria and the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA)" and declares that it is "funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and is auspiced by Gay & Lesbian Health Victoria" (booklet inside back-cover).
Peter Sprigg, Homosexuality in Your Child's School (Washington, DC: Family Research Council, 2006).
"U.S. House Republicans call for removal of ‘Safe Schools' czar Kevin Jennings", Education Reporter (Eagle Forum, Alton, Illinois, U.S.), No. 286, November 2009.
"Safe Schools czar's GLSEN reading list denounced as ‘pornographic'", Education Reporter (Eagle Forum, Alton, Illinois, U.S.), No. 288, January 2010.
Robin of Berkeley, "The Left's dirty little secret", American Thinker, May 25, 2011.
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