Margaret Court saga – yes, she can say what she has a right to her views… and a right to be challenged

 

 

 

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Image: iStock

 

 

It’s a controversy that won’t die down. Former Australian Tennis champion and Pentecostal pastor, Margaret Court sparked a fierce debate after she claimed in The West Australian that she’d boycott Qantas over Alan Joyce’s and Qantas’ strong stance on same – sex marriage.

Since then, and other events (which I’ll talk about a bit later), Court has been both criticised and fiercely defended – even by self – professed same – sex marriage supporters for her stance.

The only person in mainstream media in my view that has both criticised and defended Mrs. Court has been Graham Richardson. In the Australian on Sunday, he slammed both Court and same – sex marriage supporters for trying to stifle debate. 

The pathetic blow – up this week over Margaret Court’s comments was the last straw. Both sides have become so obsessed and hysterical over not just their case but in attempts to stop any alternative view being put.

In my view, Court’s comments this week in criticising both Qantas and its CEO Alan Joyce for entering the debate in favour of marriage equality was as outrageous as it was stupid. Why should Joyce not have the right to argue strongly for what he believes in? Why should the Qantas board not seek to back up Joyce who has turned the company’s fortunes around over five years? Surely in a democracy which is supposed to believe in free speech, this should be applauded not rubbished. Joyce is an openly gay man and he is entitled to campaign for something close to his heart.

Richardson is right. Both Joyce and Court are entitled to have their own views and be able to express them freely. People should also be able to challenge and rebut them, including Court.

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Image: iStock

Unfortunately, I think the shambolic “interview” on “The Project” last Friday alienated same – sex marriage opponents even more, and quite frankly, Court has a right to bite back. Not only was she constantly interrupted, by Waleed Aly, but also ridiculed and interrupted by both Meshel Laurie and Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann. Judge for yourself:

 

Things like this only aggravates everyone and, if we’re not careful, may be the one roadblock to same – sex marriage being legalised in Australia if it went to a public vote. They’re only shooting themselves in the foot.

 

Even though Court does have a right to have her say, it’s also got to be pointed out that her comments have hurt others – even unintentionally. Tennis player, Casey Dellacqua, who has two children with her partner, Amanda Judd blasted her on Twitter over a comment Court made about a letter she wrote about same – sex parents.

Even though Court has fervently denies that she’s against gay people, her comments have opened wounds by those who have been hurt by Pentecostal pastors, some of which, until very recently, behind “ex – gay” therapy, a widely condemned by the American Psychological Association and other bodies.

Her comments both on The Project and The Bolt Report have conflated myths that have been used by “ex gay” therapy activists – one that being gay has anything to do with gender expression (i.e. being a “tomboy”) or that people are gay because they’ve been sexually abused are statements that should be (respectfully) challenged. This also goes for her comments on same – sex families, which, again are largely disputed..

 

There has also been debate over whether Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne should be renamed. While she doubts this will happen, Australia’s Sam Stosur, along with other tennis players, have stood behind Dellacqua and Judd, even going as far as vowing to boycotting Margaret Court Arena in protest. I do applaud Stosur and other tennis players standing behind Dellacqua and Judd, and they have a right to do so. Whether they boycott Margaret Court Arena, is still to be seen.

On the renaming controversy, I don’t agree that Margaret Court Arena should be renamed. For the simple reason that Margaret Court is an Australian tennis champion, who in the 1960’s and 1970’s made huge achievements and undoubtedly revolutionised how women were viewed in the sport. No one can take that away from her, regardless of her views. That’s why her name’s there. If Stosur or others want to protest by not playing in the arena, I guess that’s their prerogative.

 

I can truly understand why this whole culture war has hit a nerve with some in the LGBTQ+ community. This is often a very personal and deep issue. But the same – sex marriage supporters here are largely at fault. While Court’s views about marriage and family can be challenged and debated, attacking her for having views has done nothing to better gay marriage or LGBTQ+ rights. In fact, it’s only made opponents more determined. We need to clean up our act and allow debate, rather than shut people up.

 

Now, I’m not surprised

Map of Syria and the flag.
Image: iStock

 

Major trigger warning: terrorism, brutal violence, homophobia.

In the aftermath of the Manchester bombing, even the fiercest critics of Islam said that the massacre was a “new low” for the terrorists.

A new low? I’m not so sure. According to an article in The Times, republished by The Australian:

The man looked at two photos of his son. In one, 14 – year – old Musab stood on a rooftop, blindfolded, his hands tied behind him, pushing back against the three  – Islamic State fighters holding his arms. In the second, the teenager was falling.

“Those were the last images I ever saw of my son alive”, said Mohammed Hussain Zer, 47, a taxi driver from Raqqa, closing his eyes at the memory of the photographs. I bought them from a member of the Daesh (Islamic State) I know as I wanted to understand exactly what had happened. Without those photos, I just couldn’t accept it”.

He hung his head. Every day since Musab, his only son, was thrown from a roof, accused of Islamic State of being a homosexual and a drug taker, Mr Zer said he had thought of revenge.

Yet, there was little chance in Raqqa for a middle – aged man with a heart condition to avenge himself against Islamic State. Consumed by grief and rage, Mr. Zer escaped from the city with his wife and three daughters.

Now he lives in a camp for the displaced in Ain Issa, waiting for the day when Raqqa is finally liberated by the Syrian Democratic forces so that he can guide younger men with guns to the homes of those former neighbours he knew joined Islamic State.

“Musab was just 14 – years – old, and innocent, but they threw him from a roof, saying he was a man that deserved to die”, Mr Zer said. “An innocent boy, killed by the drug dealers, the jailbirds and criminals in the Daesh.

“The moment Raqqa falls, I will lead the SDF to the apartment of every man I know who was a member of the Daesh. That is what I live for”.

(Loyd, Anthony; The Times, May 16, 2017, Times Limited Copyright 2017.

You can read the rest of the article either on The Times or The Australian if you want. It’s gruesome. I just wanted to expose the pigs that even execute kids for allegedly being gay. Musab may not have even known whether he was or wasn’t, but that’s beside the point! Islamic State do murder kids. It’s just sickening!

Kudos to Anthony Loyd from The Times for writing this and for The Australian for republishing it. Also, good on Herald Sun columnist Rita Panahi for having a link on her Facebook page exposing this barbarity. It needs to be called out.

Also, in regard to refugees, kids like Musab need to be the first on the list to be rescued so this can’t happen again. But that’s for another post.

 

For any Australians who found any of this content distressing, call: Lifeline 13 11 14. For people in other countries, feel free to leave any contact details below. 

 

 

Celebrating Mother’s Day at school and being inclusive – they’re not exclusive

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Image: Pixelfit iStock

 

A Canadian primary school has received criticism after a letter was sent to parents of Years One and Two students saying that the classes won’t celebrate Mother’s Day. Reason? Diversity.

I don’t agree with the decision, but I’m sympathetic to the reasoning. I do think that people should be mindful about different types of families. And before everyone starts screaming about how the LGBTQ+ community are wrecking everything, I’m not talking about that. Some children, for whatever reason, are raised by their grandparents, some are in foster care, some are raised by a single dad because of tragic circumstances (death, etc). Now maybe in circumstances such as death, the child/ren may have a tradition of visiting the mother’s grave site and placing flowers there. They may reminisce on what the mother was like when she was alive. The pain may still be too raw. I think there is a place for sensitivity there.

In regard to children being raised by grandparents or foster families, there is a need for sensitivity there, too. Mother’s Day may cause distress and confusion to young children who don’t live with their mothers.

I don’t think banning Mother’s Day at school and pretending the day doesn’t exist is necessary nor helpful. It’s only going to spark culture wars. What I think can be done is that children be given the option to give the card or gift to another family member or friend who has acted like a mother – figure in their lives. This could be a grandmother, aunt or family friend. Teachers should be inclusive and acknowledge stepmothers and foster mothers.

Also, sensitivity should be given to those in shich a child has lost a mother. I’m not sure whether having the School Counsellor or social worker on hand would be a bad idea.

 

Of course, inclusivity needs to go beyond days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Children should be able to talk about their own families and not feel alienated. This should be done without alienating the other children. i think this is where the Canadian school is mistaken.

How do you think schools can be inclusive to non – traditional families?

Yassmin Abdel – Magied ANZAC controversy: Nauru and Manus debate to be had but not on ANZAC Day

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ANZAC Day is a sacred day in Australia and New Zealand to commemorate soldiers who have fought, died and have come back forever changed.  Image: Craig Dingle, iStock

 

 

ABC presenter, Yassmin Abdel – Magied came under fire for Facebook post linking ANZAC Day to Nauru, Manus and conflicts in the Middle East. She has received heavy criticism from a number of journalists.

Rita Panahi has slammed the comment as “spectacularly stupid” and “offensive”, but argues that she shouldn’t be sacked just for the comments. Yet, Panahi, has pointed out a lack of consequences for Abdel – Magied and compared it to the sacking of Natasha Exelby after she was caught not paying attention on the job. It was only after protests that the ABC backtracked their decision and reinstated Exelby.

Should Abdel – Magied be sacked? I’m with Panahi on this one. My answer is no. And to be honest, I think a debate can be had over the West’s involvement in the Middle East and offshore processing (which, if I’m honest I’m not a big fan of).

But yesterday was not the day. Yesterday was meant to be about commemorating past and current serving men and women from World War I onward and the price that they paid. I also think it’s about also remembering those who survived the conflicts, but were forever changed – those who suffered PTSD and other mental disorders due to what they’ve witnessed and those currently serving in conflicts.

I think it’s also about remembering the families of those who are left behind: husbands, wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. Because, while they may not be in the front line, their lives will also change forever.

It’s also about remembering the nurses and doctors who helped the injured and traumatised. They too, would have been forever changed – seeing the devastation, death and not to mention the health risks they themselves faced, such as dysentery and other airborne diseases.

 

That’s what I believe we should have remembered yesterday. This is what it’s about. To over – politicise the day brings a great disservice to all those who fought, struggled, suffered and died while defending the values that Australia is so well – known for – mate-ship, democracy, freedom to live in peace and free from tyranny.

 

Like Australia Day, I also think it’s important to acknowledge how far Australia has come: the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women in ANZAC Day marches, inclusion in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the proper recognition for those who fought in the Vietnam War should all be recognised. Like many other parts of Australia’s history and culture, we are making progress. Not perfect, but in progress. Leave contentious political issues (again, worth debate) for another day.

For those in Australia, what does ANZAC Day mean to you?

Abuse can’t be accepted by Christians

Church building
Image: Canva

 

Content warning: homophobia and Church abuse.

Christian singer, Vicky Beeching has revealed that she’s temporarily leaving social media after she received a torrent of homophobic abuse.

 

As you can tell from the embedded link, from Christianity Today, most of the abuse was by Christians.

I fumed when I first read this on Monday.

The debate over the LGBTQ+ community and the church still goes on. It looks like it may go on for a while. Some people still have a staunch traditional view when it comes to sexuality. Regardless, this can’t be accepted.

 

When will we learn? The church seems to have a dark history of abuse. Even if you take the Catholic Church sexual abuse to one side, the toxic culture of spiritual and emotional abuse is horrifying. Domestic violence is another scourge just coming to light.

 

Some people use the “not true Scotsman” argument. “Well, they (the bullies and abusers), aren’t real Christians”. 

I think this is a convenient excuse, to be honest. The problem is, these issues aren’t just caused by a few “bad eggs”. If it was, it would be dealt with years ago. But like with the Catholic Church abuse scandal and others, the issue goes much deeper. As you’ll see if you click the link, unfortunately the Church’s attitudes towards sexuality and gender has exacerbated the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

Going back to the Vicky Beeching story, this issue is an issue that must be addressed. I firmly believe that it’s stems from certain members of the Church dehumanising the LGBTQ+ community. They are equated with “what they do”, rather than a child of God. Harmful stereotypes and misinformation are what fuelled the incredibly harmful “ex gay” therapy. Some attitudes, seems like haven’t changed.

 

There is good news for LGBTQ+ Christians though.  A group, Equal Voices offered a national apology to the LGBTQ+ community on any mistreatment they suffered at the hands of the Church late last month.

Last time I checked the letter, over 500 people signed. Most of them identified as being a member of a Christian denomination. Others said they were ‘ex’ members and others identified as either agnostic or atheist. I do believe that this is a sign that there are Christians who want to move in the right direction and treat LGBTQ+ community with dignity and compassion. That doesn’t mean that what has happened to Vicky Beeching shouldn’t be addressed.

Here’s the thing. If you are a Christian and you see abusive comments on social media by other Christians, call it out. Block or report the person. If you hear it in real life, if you can, confront it head on. It’s about time all Christians start being real and calling out abuse when it occurs. Whether it’s against an LGBTQ+ person, someone suffering domestic violence or any other types of abuse, it needs to be called out and condemned.

 

There is another thing. Calling out abuse is only a tip of the iceberg as well. Christians need to develop a culture where abuse cannot fester. Everything needs to be examined, including theology and whether it’s used as an instrument of harm rather than healing. Correcting someone when they are wrong is one thing. But abuse cannot be tolerated. If you need to, look deeply into Scripture. Look at the historical context and the original Greek and Hebrew/ Aramaic to get a fuller understanding on what the authors meant. If you can’t get an exact answer, I believe that we need to go back to the number one rule: Love God and love our neighbour as ourselves fulfils the law and the Prophets. I believe that means that anything that causes harm – whether intended or not – cannot be accepted and cannot remain a part of Christian culture.

 

This goes to the those who abused Vicky Beeching as well. You’re conduct does NOT in any way fulfil what I said above about loving God and others. If you are against same – sex relationships, I’m not going to attack that. But the abuse needs to stop. Treat LGBTQ+ people like people FIRST!

Content warning: homophobia and Church abuse.

Christian singer, Vicky Beeching has revealed that she’s temporarily leaving social media after she received a torrent of homophobic abuse.

 

As you can tell from the embedded link, from Christianity Today, most of the abuse was by Christians.

I fumed when I first read this on Monday.

The debate over the LGBTQ+ community and the church still goes on. It looks like it may go on for a while. Some people still have a staunch traditional view when it comes to sexuality. Regardless, this can’t be accepted.

 

When will we learn? The church seems to have a dark history of abuse. Even if you take the Catholic Church sexual abuse to one side, the toxic culture of spiritual and emotional abuse is horrifying. Domestic violence is another scourge just coming to light.

 

Some people use the “not true Scotsman” argument. “Well, they (the bullies and abusers), aren’t real Christians”. 

I think this is a convenient excuse, to be honest. The problem is, these issues aren’t just caused by a few “bad eggs”. If it was, it would be dealt with years ago. But like with the Catholic Church abuse scandal and others, the issue goes much deeper. As you’ll see if you click the link, unfortunately the Church’s attitudes towards sexuality and gender has exacerbated the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

Going back to the Vicky Beeching story, this issue is an issue that must be addressed. I firmly believe that it’s stems from certain members of the Church dehumanising the LGBTQ+ community. They are equated with “what they do”, rather than a child of God. Harmful stereotypes and misinformation are what fuelled the incredibly harmful “ex gay” therapy. Some attitudes, seems like haven’t changed.

 

There is good news for LGBTQ+ Christians though.  A group, Equal Voices offered a national apology to the LGBTQ+ community on any mistreatment they suffered at the hands of the Church late last month.

Last time I checked the letter, over 500 people signed. Most of them identified as being a member of a Christian denomination. Others said they were ‘ex’ members and others identified as either agnostic or atheist. I do believe that this is a sign that there are Christians who want to move in the right direction and treat LGBTQ+ community with dignity and compassion. That doesn’t mean that what has happened to Vicky Beeching shouldn’t be addressed.

Here’s the thing. If you are a Christian and you see abusive comments on social media by other Christians, call it out. Block or report the person. If you hear it in real life, if you can, confront it head on. It’s about time all Christians start being real and calling out abuse when it occurs. Whether it’s against an LGBTQ+ person, someone suffering domestic violence or any other types of abuse, it needs to be called out and condemned.

 

There is another thing. Calling out abuse is only a tip of the iceberg as well. Christians need to develop a culture where abuse cannot fester. Everything needs to be examined, including theology and whether it’s used as an instrument of harm rather than healing. Correcting someone when they are wrong is one thing. But abuse cannot be tolerated. If you need to, look deeply into Scripture. Look at the historical context and the original Greek and Hebrew/ Aramaic to get a fuller understanding on what the authors meant. If you can’t get an exact answer, I believe that we need to go back to the number one rule: Love God and love our neighbour as ourselves fulfils the law and the Prophets. I believe that means that anything that causes harm – whether intended or not – cannot be accepted and cannot remain a part of Christian culture.

 

This goes to the those who abused Vicky Beeching as well. You’re conduct does NOT in any way fulfil what I said above about loving God and others. If you are against same – sex relationships, I’m not going to attack that. But the abuse needs to stop. Treat LGBTQ+ people like people FIRST!

Content warning: homophobia and Church abuse.

Christian singer, Vicky Beeching has revealed that she’s temporarily leaving social media after she received a torrent of homophobic abuse.

 

As you can tell from the embedded link, from Christianity Today, most of the abuse was by Christians.

I fumed when I first read this on Monday.

The debate over the LGBTQ+ community and the church still goes on. It looks like it may go on for a while. Some people still have a staunch traditional view when it comes to sexuality. Regardless, this can’t be accepted.

 

When will we learn? The church seems to have a dark history of abuse. Even if you take the Catholic Church sexual abuse to one side, the toxic culture of spiritual and emotional abuse is horrifying. Domestic violence is another scourge just coming to light.

 

Some people use the “not true Scotsman” argument. “Well, they (the bullies and abusers), aren’t real Christians”. 

I think this is a convenient excuse, to be honest. The problem is, these issues aren’t just caused by a few “bad eggs”. If it was, it would be dealt with years ago. But like with the Catholic Church abuse scandal and others, the issue goes much deeper. As you’ll see if you click the link, unfortunately the Church’s attitudes towards sexuality and gender has exacerbated the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

Going back to the Vicky Beeching story, this issue is an issue that must be addressed. I firmly believe that it’s stems from certain members of the Church dehumanising the LGBTQ+ community. They are equated with “what they do”, rather than a child of God. Harmful stereotypes and misinformation are what fuelled the incredibly harmful “ex gay” therapy. Some attitudes, seems like haven’t changed.

 

There is good news for LGBTQ+ Christians though.  A group, Equal Voices offered a national apology to the LGBTQ+ community on any mistreatment they suffered at the hands of the Church late last month.

Last time I checked the letter, over 500 people signed. Most of them identified as being a member of a Christian denomination. Others said they were ‘ex’ members and others identified as either agnostic or atheist. I do believe that this is a sign that there are Christians who want to move in the right direction and treat LGBTQ+ community with dignity and compassion. That doesn’t mean that what has happened to Vicky Beeching shouldn’t be addressed.

Here’s the thing. If you are a Christian and you see abusive comments on social media by other Christians, call it out. Block or report the person. If you hear it in real life, if you can, confront it head on. It’s about time all Christians start being real and calling out abuse when it occurs. Whether it’s against an LGBTQ+ person, someone suffering domestic violence or any other types of abuse, it needs to be called out and condemned.

 

There is another thing. Calling out abuse is only a tip of the iceberg as well. Christians need to develop a culture where abuse cannot fester. Everything needs to be examined, including theology and whether it’s used as an instrument of harm rather than healing. Correcting someone when they are wrong is one thing. But abuse cannot be tolerated. If you need to, look deeply into Scripture. Look at the historical context and the original Greek and Hebrew/ Aramaic to get a fuller understanding on what the authors meant. If you can’t get an exact answer, I believe that we need to go back to the number one rule: Love God and love our neighbour as ourselves fulfils the law and the Prophets. I believe that means that anything that causes harm – whether intended or not – cannot be accepted and cannot remain a part of Christian culture.

 

This goes to the those who abused Vicky Beeching as well. You’re conduct does NOT in any way fulfil what I said above about loving God and others. If you are against same – sex relationships, I’m not going to attack that. But the abuse needs to stop. Treat LGBTQ+ people like people FIRST!

Content warning: homophobia and Church abuse.

Christian singer, Vicky Beeching has revealed that she’s temporarily leaving social media after she received a torrent of homophobic abuse.

 

As you can tell from the embedded link, from Christianity Today, most of the abuse was by Christians.

I fumed when I first read this on Monday.

The debate over the LGBTQ+ community and the church still goes on. It looks like it may go on for a while. Some people still have a staunch traditional view when it comes to sexuality. Regardless, this can’t be accepted.

 

When will we learn? The church seems to have a dark history of abuse. Even if you take the Catholic Church sexual abuse to one side, the toxic culture of spiritual and emotional abuse is horrifying. Domestic violence is another scourge just coming to light.

 

Some people use the “not true Scotsman” argument. “Well, they (the bullies and abusers), aren’t real Christians”. 

I think this is a convenient excuse, to be honest. The problem is, these issues aren’t just caused by a few “bad eggs”. If it was, it would be dealt with years ago. But like with the Catholic Church abuse scandal and others, the issue goes much deeper. As you’ll see if you click the link, unfortunately the Church’s attitudes towards sexuality and gender has exacerbated the rates of sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

Going back to the Vicky Beeching story, this issue is an issue that must be addressed. I firmly believe that it’s stems from certain members of the Church dehumanising the LGBTQ+ community. They are equated with “what they do”, rather than a child of God. Harmful stereotypes and misinformation are what fuelled the incredibly harmful “ex gay” therapy. Some attitudes, seems like haven’t changed.

 

There is good news for LGBTQ+ Christians though.  A group, Equal Voices offered a national apology to the LGBTQ+ community on any mistreatment they suffered at the hands of the Church late last month.

Last time I checked the letter, over 500 people signed. Most of them identified as being a member of a Christian denomination. Others said they were ‘ex’ members and others identified as either agnostic or atheist. I do believe that this is a sign that there are Christians who want to move in the right direction and treat LGBTQ+ community with dignity and compassion. That doesn’t mean that what has happened to Vicky Beeching shouldn’t be addressed.

Here’s the thing. If you are a Christian and you see abusive comments on social media by other Christians, call it out. Block or report the person. If you hear it in real life, if you can, confront it head on. It’s about time all Christians start being real and calling out abuse when it occurs. Whether it’s against an LGBTQ+ person, someone suffering domestic violence or any other types of abuse, it needs to be called out and condemned.

 

There is another thing. Calling out abuse is only a tip of the iceberg as well. Christians need to develop a culture where abuse cannot fester. Everything needs to be examined, including theology and whether it’s used as an instrument of harm rather than healing. Correcting someone when they are wrong is one thing. But abuse cannot be tolerated. If you need to, look deeply into Scripture. Look at the historical context and the original Greek and Hebrew/ Aramaic to get a fuller understanding on what the authors meant. If you can’t get an exact answer, I believe that we need to go back to the number one rule: Love God and love our neighbour as ourselves fulfils the law and the Prophets. I believe that means that anything that causes harm – whether intended or not – cannot be accepted and cannot remain a part of Christian culture.

 

This goes to the those who abused Vicky Beeching as well. You’re conduct does NOT in any way fulfil what I said above about loving God and others. If you are against same – sex relationships, I’m not going to attack that. But the abuse needs to stop. Treat LGBTQ+ people like people FIRST!

 

If this post has brought up any issues, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you’re from another country, feel free to leave numbers of any counselling services in the comments below. 

Safe Schools being dumped in New South Wales – predictable and a lost opportunity

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?

Yes, words do matter

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Emotional pain is just as real as physical pain. Emotional/ verbal/ cyber abuse is just as devastating as physical abuse

Content warning: bullying, mentions Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting

“Sticks and stoner may break my bones but words can never hurt me”.

Hands up anyone who has heard that. I’m sure we all have, both as children and adults. Words are often described as “just words”. Nothing. Just water off a duck’s back.

But words do matter (I’ll get to an actual scientific explanation in a second). Victims of emotional abuse, either by peers, by a partner or family member knows this all too well. You feel vulnerable. The more it goes on, the more your self – esteem gets eroded. In the end, you end up believing the lies.

An area that people are starting to grapple with is online abuse, particularly on social media.While there are a number of laws in Australia that make things like stalking, harassment and defamation online an offence, in 2014, anti – bullying campaigners said that police were not trained enough to deal with these cases. Too many complaints were being dismissed.

According to Daily Mail Australia, Adelaide woman, Maxine Pratt, 31, has to face court after she abuse Adelaide Crow’s player Eddie Betts on Facebook. She could possibly be charged with using a carry service to menace, harass and offend. She has since denied that she was being racist and, as a part – Aboriginal (her words), she didn’t find ape references offensive.

Effects of emotional and cyber abuse

A few days ago, I watched a mini – series on Iview, “Cyberhate”, by former model, Tara Moss. On one of the episodes, she went to see a brain specialist to ask about the impact on the brain when being exposed to abuse online. The findings were shocking. Abusive messages affected a similar region of the brain that causes physical pain.  (If you are in Australia, I’d encourage you to look at the series through IView. It’s very informative, but also confronting. Be careful if you have any underlying issues or are triggered by discussions – and quite graphic and brutal incidence of verbal, cyber and homophobic abuse. The Orlando shooting last year is also referenced).

BrainFacts.org confirms that bullying can have a major impact on brain development in childhood, even going as far as saying it has the same effects as child abuse. The short – term and long – term effects of bullying are well – known: depression, anxiety, drug and drug and alcohol abuse in adulthood. It also causes stress, which, if bad enough, can leave the immune system compromised. Bullying victims can also become perpetrators themselves, creating a cycle of victims and perpetrators.

So what is the solution?

From what I watched from Cyberhate, just being stricter on cyber – bullying legally may be easier said than done. What makes it complicated is that, according to the series, a number of self – confessed “trolls” often (not always) show signs of an anti – social personality  disorder, including psychopathy. They may exhibit Machiavellianism; one of the so – called “Dark Triad” along with psychopathy and narcissism.

 I think the law plays a part, but so does psychiatric therapies to help treat those suffering from anti – social personality traits. However, the Harley Therapy Counselling Blog does warn that those who have Machiavellianism are unlikely to go and get treatment on their own accord, so, the only solution I can think of is court appointment when an offence, including cyber offences occur. For offenders who do not suffer any form of psychiatric or personality disorder, there does need to be consequences, including, I believe legal repercussions. Fortunately, young people are more aware of cyber bullying now and its repercussions on both the perpetrators and the victims, since they are talking about it more in high schools. Are the warnings strong enough? I’m not sure.

I think the place we can start is get rid of the “sticks and stones” myth. Words do matter. Words do have an impact. Bullying of any sort should be condemned and treated seriously.

What do you think can or should be done to combat cyber – bullying? 

(For Australians): If this post has brought up any issues for you, contact Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636. For people of other countries, feel free to put any numbers of mental health services in your country, please comment below.