Mandurah school in controversial gay and transgender program

A MANDURAH high school is one of 19 in Western Australia to have joined the controversial Safe Schools gay and transgender program.

Coodanup College, which has a school population of about 570 students from years 7 to 12, appeared on a list of schools which are members of the Safe Schools Coalition.

It is the only school in the Peel region on the list.

The program, which aims to provide teacher training, resources and consultancy support to help schools address homophobia and support inclusiveness, has been slammed by local MP Andrew Hastie and other federal politicians.

The $8 million program warns against using gendered terms in schools, introduces students to terms such as “genderqueer” and “non-binary” and suggests the use of the “non-gendered” pronouns “ze” and “ey” instead of “he” and “she”.

The program also seeks to create inclusive school environments by encouraging schools to allow students to wear any part of the school uniform regardless of gender and suggests students put up posters challenging homophobia and transphobia.

Mr Hastie said he was concerned about the program running in a Mandurah school.

“I’m not sure if there’s any levers they [concerned parents] can pull; my thought is that they should take heart that the coalition government is reviewing the program and take heart that there is quite a few backbenchers watching with close interest, including their local member,” Mr Hastie said.

Mr Hastie said he had received a number of letters from constituents worried about the program.

“The fundamental issue is that parents haven’t been told and my belief is that the family is the fundamental building block of society, so policy should support that institution not cleave it in two.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ordered a review of the program after pressure from Liberal MPs, including Mr Hastie.

Federal education minister Simon Birmingham said homophobia should not be tolerated in school environments.

 “However, it is essential that all material is age-appropriate and that parents have confidence in any resources used in a school to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school,” he said.

The Safe Schools Coalition which runs the program did not respond to requests for comment.

Coodanup College referred requests for comment to the state Department of Education.

The department confirmed the college had "signed up" to the Safe Schools Coalition and parents would be informed if they decided to teach the lessons from the program.


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