Safe schools teach values, not ideology | OPINION

This week, a political debate erupted over the controversial Safe Schools program, which last week was under consideration by Halls Head College in Mandurah.

The program is ostensibly aimed at stopping bullying of gay and transgender school-children.

It advises teachers to avoid using “heterosexist” phrases such as “ladies and gentlemen” or “boys and girls”, encourages the use of “safe spaces” and shows teachers how to teach “correct language” such as “queer”, “pansexual”, “sister-girl” and “trans-guy”.

In the past, the program has taught girls how to bind their chests so their breasts wouldn’t develop, encouraged children to use either the boys’ or girls’ toilets and taught gay and lesbian sexual techniques.

This program is not about bullying.

If it was, it would reinforce traditional values of respect and tolerance.

Instead, it seeks to control the speech and opinions of staff and students through – to use its Orwellian phrase –  “modelling correct language use”.

It takes an obscure political position that emerged in marginal academic circles in the 1990s – that gender is not what a person is, but what a person chooses to be – and puts it centre-stage in the classroom under the guise of anti-bullying.

The sad thing in all of this is that the politics of how a student came to be a boy or a girl or something else should be irrelevant to the welfare of students of any gender or sexual orientation.

Any child who is bullied, no matter what the reason, should be protected, should be nurtured, should be as part of the school community as any other child. Anything less is unacceptable.

Bullying can be brutal, and kids who do it should be punished and then taught to value their peers, without exception.

But forcing them to watch a video that explains which pronouns are appropriate for students who switch their gender (not “he” or “she” but “they” or “ze”) is like some bizarre Soviet re-education program. Hardly about bullying.

Instead, let’s demand all children are accepted and loved.

Let’s demand the protection of gay and transgender kids from bullying by applying the rules that already exist.

Let’s stop the propagation of academic and bureaucratic nonsense through our school system and instead of “correcting” the language of students from the raised platform of ideology, let’s instill in them common values which will let them decide for themselves what is right and wrong.

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