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Is there a need for a Safe Schools program?

Friday, 18 March 2016  | Gordon Preece


The debate erupting about this question needs some clarification. It should not firstly be about whether an LGBTI indoctrination campaign is taking place. Such a process would be a real concern, but in firstly Christians need to acknowledge the severe difficulty and life-threatening danger (according to suicide and mental health statistics), of schoolyard and social media persecution for a significant number of young people. Given the basic principle of ‘do no harm’ or prevent harm where possible, and the duty of care of schools, it is not rocket-science from a biblical, pastoral and educational perspective to seek to limit homophobia (not to be equated with believing the Bible is against homosexual intercourse) and LGBTI persecution in schools.

Yes, there are other groups being bullied as well, because of body image, race, religion etc. But there is a particular, persistent, very personal assault on many young LGBTI people that justifies special protective and preventative measures. Other measures to minimise bullying in the other cases need looking at too, as they have been in cases like social media bullying.

This does not justify the whole Safe Schools package or an ‘all the way with LBGTI’ approach they may be taking with some very young people – ‘give me a child at 11’ to paraphrase the Jesuits ‘give me a child till seven’ slogan. Nor does it justify heavily questioning heterosexual identity, prematurely solidifying LGBTI identities, etc. This is another, and also very serious matter, associated with the Safe Schools Program.
Gordon Preece is Director of Ethos: EA Centre for Christianity and Society, Chair and Executive of the Melbourne Anglican Diocese Social Responsibilities Committee, minister at Yarraville Anglican Parish and co-editor of Sexegesis.

This article first appeared at http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/bullied-more. Reproduced with permission.

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Here are some further articles and resources on the Safe Schools Program from a range of perspectives:

A helpful collation of opinion pieces on the controversial Safe Schools Program, by Eternity’s John Sandeman & Kaley Payne -

http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/christians-respond-to-safe-schools-coalition-teaching-materials

Michael Jensen argues that people are bullied, victimised and even assaulted because of their sexuality in contemporary Australia is completely unacceptable - http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/michael-jensen/the-playground-can-be-a-brutal-place_b_9395648.html

Paul Kelly, editor of The Australian, argues that the program is a case of ‘social and sexual engineering’ - http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/paul-kelly/safe-schools-turnbull-in-crossfire-over-sex-agenda/news-story/8196b1e8ad262992922598316cd9c5a0

Farrah Tomazin, The Sunday Age's political editor, argues that the program could save lives and must be kept - http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/why-safe-schools-program-must-be-kept-20160310-gng9qc.html

Shannon Molloy recounts his experience of being bullied at school -http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/rendezview/youre-going-to-die-poofter-and-thats-why-we-need-safe-schools/news-story/ab74fd1b2972c9d0ef7c2607f2984876

Submission to the review of the Safe Schools 'All of Us' Curriculum by Liz Walker, Managing Director, Youth Wellbeing Project - http://www.youthwellbeingproject.com.au/support/blogs/82-independent-review-safe-schools

The federal government has outlined amendments to the Safe Schools Coalition teaching materials to ensure their contents are appropriate for classroom teaching - http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/government-modifies-safe-schools-programme-but-funding-remains#sthash.R7GzC2Br.dpuf

Response to amendments from the Australian Christian Lobby - http://www.acl.org.au/2016/03/schools-pruning-welcome-but-gender-ideology-remains/

In the debate around the Safe Schools curicculum, Eternity News warns against jumping on the paedophilia bandwagon -

http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/bandwagon-jumping-and-george-christensen-the-worst-youth-group-stunt-ever-best-use-of-church-car-wash



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