New South Wales Education Minister, Rob Stokes will cut off funding for the controversial Safe Schools Program after June 30. However, Mr. Stokes has also said that the program will be replaced by a holistic anti – bullying program, with input from teachers and principals of private and Catholic schools. This decision has recieved some praise on social media:
Personally, my feelings about Safe Schools have been mixed. When I first heard about the program, I was skeptical, then when I looked at the resources, including the ‘All of Us’ booklet online, I thought maybe it wasn’t a bad idea. What I liked about it was the fact it went beyond the gay/ straight dichotomy. I never understood the role playing exercises, though. Then, it all became a farce. The program’s founder Roz Ward said that the Safe Schools was deliberately about sexuality, gender and anti – Capitalism. Much of the information is arguable, to say the least and The Australian alleged that students were being interviewed about their sexuality without parents’ knowledge or consent.
There has also been concern about the content being taught in preschools and primary schools, with critics arguing that the it sexualises children. When the program was reviewed last year, the primary school curriculum was deemed inappropriate and was taken out all together. Despite concerns, some State premiers, like Victoria’s Daniel Andrews has hard – headedly latched on to the program, with plans to make it compulsory in all Victorian high schools by 2019.
I am so disappointed tbat this has gone down the way it has. I firmly believe that there is place for high schools to openly discuss issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community and offer support LGBTQ+ students and their families. I can say from personal experience that being bullied because of your sexuality is hard. To be honest, I think what makes it harder than other forms of bullying is the fear of rejection and self – loathing. With the inclusion of asexuality and other members of the LGBTQ+ community being recognised. To be honest, it may have made a few years in high school a little bit easier.
However, I don’t think the program was done correctly. Skewing data and turning such a sensitive issue into a political manifesto doesn’t help anyone. Also, I don’t think it should have been labelled an ‘anti – bullying’ program, when it was proved to be more. Also, I think parents and guardians should not have been left in the dark about content or activities, including any research activities that were to take place (surveys, interviews, etc).
Maybe a holistic anti – bullying program would be better than one that solely focuses on LGBTQ+ students. But I still say, correct information needs to be given to teachers and other staff to assist LGBTQ+ students. Students should know withiut a shadowvof a doubt that they’ll be supported and teachers and counsellors should be armed with correct information, including on asexuality (I know I keep bringing it up, but it’s something I do feel strongly about).
How do you feel about the Safe Schools program? If you’re against it, what do you think can replace it?