March 12th 2016


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Several items missing from list of the big spend

CANBERRA OBSERVED Greens back Coalition in Senate voting reform

ENERGY Nuclear reprocessing feasible here: SA inquiry

HISTORY OF TAIWAN Fifty-year journey from poverty to prosperity

SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT Warning: wolves in anti-bullying clothing

EDITORIAL Turnbull ignores three elephants in the room

DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE Family portrait or ideological caricature?

OPINION Goebbels revisited: the attack on Cardinal Pell

FAMILY AND SOCIETY SSCA apologists try to shrug off media furore

EUTHANASIA Legitimate denial of choice at end of life (Part II of two)

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Welcome backdown on vaccinations

ENVIRONMENT Food bowl emptied due to conservationist myopia

MUSIC Much-loved concertos clouded with melancholy

CINEMA Spotlight in the darkness: Spotlight

BOOK REVIEW Governing Middle-earth

BOOK REVIEW A land of contrasts

LETTERS

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FAMILY AND SOCIETY SSCA
apologists try to shrug off media furore


by Terri M. Kelleher

News Weekly, March 12, 2016

The Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA) program hit the headlines in The Australian newspaper on February 13: “Sexual politics in the classroom”.

Where have your kids been surfing today?

National Correspondent Natasha Bita reported: “Ostensibly an anti-bullying program, it takes a politically correct approach to sex education. Teachers are told it is “heterosexist” to refer to students as “girls and boys”. Prepubescent children are taught the meaning of terms such as “queer’’, “pansexual”, “sister girl’’ and “trans guy”.

Even The Age ran an article by education writer Kevin Donnelly, on February 11: “Safe Schools Coalition is more about LGBTI advocacy than making schools safer”. He wrote: “Under the guise of anti-bullying, the Safe Schools Coalition is promoting a radical view of gender and sexuality.”

Earlier in February The Herald Sun reported that Cella White, a Frankston mother of four, had withdrawn her two secondary school-aged children from her local government high school over concerns about the SSCA program. Ms White said the idea that students could choose the toilets they were comfortable with could mean: “It could be a year-12 student of the opposite-born sex in the bathroom with my year-7 daughter, who is blind …

“This isn’t about safe schools, it’s transgenderism and gay activism bought into the classroom.”

News coverage of the SSCA program has continued since early February, with more aspects of the program coming to the attention of journalists and MPs.

By February 24 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had ordered a review of the program by Education Minister Simon Birmingham. The Australian reported that the program includes a role-playing exercise in which children in Years 7/8 – so children as young as 11 – are asked to imagine being in a same-sex relationship; and in a lesson on transgender experiences to imagine losing their genitalia. There was a view that parents should approve of material before it was taught to their children and that material presented to children should be age appropriate.

On Thursday February 25, Queensland Nationals MP George Christiansen made explosive revelations in Parliament of SSCA resources that contained links to sex clubs, adult online communities, pornographic websites, sex shops, gay bars and a hands-on workshop in sadomasochism and sex toys. Natasha Bita reported in The Australian on February 26 that Mr Christiansen tabled a graphic in Parliament showing how SSCA resources directed students to sites with links to, among others, a sex shop called the Tool Shed and to a teenage advice website called Scarleteen.

She also reported that the All of Us SSCA teaching resource provides a list of organisations which teachers can run off and provide to students. The list includes Minus18, Twenty10, Bit Bent in the ACT and the Freedom Centre in WA. And she pointed out, as we have in News Weekly, that SSCA also, through the All of Us guide, advises students to ask whether these websites are blocked at school and they are to ask why.

Bita also reports on the Minus18 article advising students how to cover their browsing history. So at the same time as containing links to adult/erotic websites, SSCA resources are advising students how to ensure no one will know what they are accessing online.

Karelee Katsambanis, a Perth mother of three and a journalist of 20 years standing, made her views very clear in the headline to her article in The Sydney Morning Herald on February 22: “Don’t teach my kids about GLBTI issues … that’s my job”. She said that many Australian parents, including LGBTI parents, that she had spoken to were not happy about SSCA – that they saw their rights as parents to talk to their children about these issues when they thought it was the right time being eroded.

An article in The Australian on March 1 raised even wider issues around the SSCA program. As Patrick J. Byrne’s article in News Weekly of February 27 revealed, the architect of the SSCV (now SSCA) Roz Ward is “an outspoken hard-left warrior”. Journalists Rebecca Urban and Andrew Burrell reported that Ms Ward “moonlights as a writer for Red Flag, a publication of the Socialist Alternative, a Trotskyite Marxist organisation.

Of course now that the spotlight is on the content of the SSCA program there has been pushback from apologists and supporters. Their response is simply to ignore the substance of the complaints about the program’s content and to repeat the mantra that it is about preventing bullying of GLBT students. Kerryn Phelp’s performance on Q&A on February 29 is a prime example.

Parents such as Karalee Katsambanis, and those expressing their anger on social media about the SSCA program, will hopefully have the final say. And schools such as the schools in Bendigo, which have not joined SSCA, will be shown to have been wise.

A significant development is the report in The Australian on 3 March that the National Catholic Education Commission has told Catholic education leaders that the Safe Schools Coalition program is incompatible with church teachings: “ ‘The Safe Schools Coalition material and programs have been examined by Catholic education authorities and are not considered appropriate for use in Catholic schools,’ it said.”




























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TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99


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