Critics of the polarising Safe Schools program have stepped up demands for it to be axed after revelations several NSW students including a four-year-old preschool child have been receiving support with gender transitioning. Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) spokeswoman Wendy Francis claimed a reported spike in cases of gender dysphoria, where someone’s biological sex doesn’t align with their gender identity, had followed the rollout of Safe Schools. “Safe Schools didn’t come in to address the problem, this is happening after the Safe Schools program has been introduced,” she said. “The thought that four-year-olds would be seeking to change their gender is madness. We are sacrificing our children to a rainbow ideology.”

NSW Education Department deputy secretary of school operations Greg Prior has revealed in parliamentary estimates that a number of students were “going through gender transition in our schools, with the youngest being a four-year-old”. He said Safe Schools was only one resource used to support students, families and schools. The four-year-old will go to kindergarten next year and has identified as transgender. The school initially registered on the Safe Schools anti-bullying site to access materials to help teachers prepare to assist the child. Leading child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, said 250 children as young as three were being assisted by the gender dysphoria unit at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.

He said “If they are a little boy and they want to be a little girl they dress as little girls, they grow their hair long, they are called by another name. It doesn’t actually mean that they get any medical intervention, that’s something that they may or may not do as they grow older as puberty approaches,” he said.  Lindsay Hale, the executive director of state-wide services for Western Australia’s Education Department, said “if a family has had expert medical advice related to their child’s gender identity and the experts recommend the school puts arrangements in place at school, school staff will incorporate the advice into their planning”. In South Australia, confidential advice is provided to “individual schools requesting assistance to support a student to affirm or transition gender”.

In Victoria, guidelines are provided to schools to ensure they are safe and inclusive for all students who are same-sex attracted, gender diverse and intersex and help can come from school nurses, welfare officers and counsellors. Last month, it was revealed that a 15-year-old child was given permission by the Family Court to have both breasts removed so she could feel more like a boy. The normal process for children diagnosed with gender dysphoria in Australia is for the child to start hormonal treatment to suppress puberty from age 14 or 15; and for parents to then seek the court’s permission for stage two treatment, where a child is given hormones of the opposite gender, from about the age of 16.

This revelation that there is a ‘wave’ of young Australian children seeking to change their gender should come as no surprise after a long-running debate about removing gender from marriage, according to the Australian Christian Lobby. ACL spokesperson Wendy Francis said “Australian parents shouldn’t be surprised that “Safe Schools” gender fluid teaching is a package deal with same-sex marriage,” she said. Two of the biggest advocates for removing gender from marriage are Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr. Both of these leaders are making Safe Schools compulsory in High Schools. It remains for now voluntary in primary schools. “Safe Schools” recommends The Gender Fairy picture book for reading in class to four-year-olds.

Ms Francis said “The Gender Fairy book is designed to be read to four-year-old children, telling them that they are the only ones who know if they are a boy or a girl, and that no one else can tell them that. The pictures for these children, who are unlikely to be able to read the words, are confusing, as well as being sexist and stereotyped. They show a girl angry because she wants to be a boy and play soccer, and a little boy crying because he wants to be wearing a pink tutu and dancing. “We must stop this madness. Referrals to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead for gender services have tripled, with medical staff indicating rapid escalating across every Australian state. “Psychologists are being ignored as they warn that it is too young for a four-year-old to be transitioning gender. “Safe Schools” is anything but safe.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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The Accor Hotels group has confirmed that it cancelled a function to be hosted by Church and other Christian leaders after a social media storm triggered phone calls that “rattled” employees and left the company concerned about the safety of staff and guests. A ferocious campaign against Christian groups planning to meet on same-sex marriage has forced them to cancel the event at one of their major hotels this week, amid claims of physical threats from marriage-equality advocates. The Accor Hotels group confirmed that the function had been abandoned after a social media storm triggered phone calls that “rattled” employees and left the company concerned about the safety of staff and guests.

In the first test of the “civil” debate promised for a plebiscite on gay marriage, advocates for the “yes” case were being blamed for the kind of “hate speech” that Bill Shorten and others have claimed would come from the “no” case. A spokeswoman for the Mercure Sydney Airport Hotel said the campaign by marriage-equality advocates had forced the company to close the hotel’s Facebook page, sparked phone calls that disturbed hotel staff and escalated the problem to the company’s headquarters. “We’ve conducted an objective review regarding the safety and security of our hotel guests and staff,” she said. “Following this review the event will no longer take place.”

The four Christian groups booked the hotel conference room to prepare for a “no” campaign in the potential plebiscite, even though Labor and the Greens appear certain to block the “people’s vote” legislation in the Senate. About 100 people were expected to attend from the Sydney Anglicans, Sydney Catholics, the Marriage Alliance and the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL). Gay news website Same¬≠ alerted readers to the event. Activist Pauline Pantsdown urged followers to stop the “dangerous, predatory” ACL. “Are children safe at Mercure and Accor hotels?” one post said. One follower declared it “utterly horrifying” that Accor would host the Christian groups while another accused the hotel of supporting the “hateful, deceitful and extreme” ACL.

The campaign dismayed some marriage-equality supporters. “I’m becoming a little uneasy about this kind of thing,” said one. “Will fundamentalist Christians and others start pressuring venues hosting marriage-equality functions to cancel them?” Accor confirmed the campaign led to a number of “negative” calls to the hotel but would not confirm claims these calls included death threats. The spokeswoman would not say whether the police had been notified. The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, warned that it was beneath Australians to treat supporters of traditional marriage as proponents of bigotry. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, warned of the danger to free speech from the threats that shut down the meeting.

A joint statement from the conveners said the hotel staff received “threats of violence” after the details of the private event were published on the internet. “We have chosen to reconsider our arrangements for the event due to our concern for the safety of the hotel staff, and our commitment to a reasonable and respectful debate,” ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said. The Australian Marriage Equality group would make no comments on the storm over the event. Marriage-equality advocates however hailed the cancellation of the meeting. Pantsdown accused ACL of “playing victim” and justified the campaign against the Christian groups “due to danger they pose” to LGBTI children and families. The bill to hold the February 11 plebiscite was introduced into parliament this week but appears headed for defeat in the Senate.

Editors note:  The meeting eventually went ahead as planned after being relocated to a Christian venue.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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Over 17,000 people have signed a petition urging the NSW government to scrap the controversial Safe Schools curriculum. Liberal MP Damien Tudehope recently lodged the petition in parliament on behalf of the Australian-Chinese community, paving the way for MPs to debate whether the taxpayer-funded program should be dumped. The conservative member for Epping, who has previously dubbed the program a “Trojan horse”, said the petition was signed by people from across Sydney, and not just in his electorate. “You could definitely say this is the beginning of the end for Safe Schools,” he said. “Any program which divides and polarises the community in such a way cannot possibly deliver the anti-bullying outcomes it proposes”.

Mr Tudehope said he had also received objections from the Korean, Lebanese and Indian communities, and would not be surprised if similar petitions arose. “One thing that our migrant communities have in common is that they won’t allow anyone interfering with their parental rights and programs like Safe Schools represent an attack on the rights of all parents,” he said. The petition comes after Christian Democrat MLC Reverend Fred Nile, who holds the balance of power in the NSW Upper House, reportedly met with Premier Mike Baird to urge him to axe the program. Mr Tudehope said he would keep pressing the issue in NSW. “This is a national issue and governments would be irresponsible to continue to ignore these very legitimate and reasonable concerns,” he said.

The Safe Schools program was set up to stop the bullying of gay and transgender students. The federal government announced sweeping changes to the program earlier this year after an independent review found a number of lessons and content were inappropriate for children. Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi said the apparent push against the education program from conservative NSW politicians was unwarranted. She rejected claims the program was divisive and polarising, saying it was created by educators who understand the challenges faced by gender diverse children. “We’ve seen these types of scare tactics used at a federal level,” Ms Faruqi said in a statement. “Here in NSW we need to stand strong as a community and continue to support our vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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FamilyVoice Victoria director Peter Stevens has welcomed the affirmation by the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition of its earlier promise to scrap the controversial “Safe Schools” program if elected to govern.  The Coalition would replace it with a broad anti-bullying program, engaging parents and teaching mutual respect – without an ideological agenda. “Opposition Whip Andrew Katos confirmed this policy in an email to me,” Peter Stevens said.  “Victorian parents will be relieved to know there is now at least one side of parliament that shares their concerns about children being bullied if they do not support the ‘Safe Schools’ political propaganda.  Its ideology, promoting same-sex marriage and multi-genderism, has even been taught in high school science lessons, without parental knowledge or consent.

“I hope Premier Dan Andrews will reconsider his tyrannical edict forcing all Victorian state high schools to teach the program next year, ” Mr Stevens said.  “The loss of the federal seat of Chisholm to the Liberals in the recent Federal Election, in part because of opposition to the ‘Safe Schools’ ideology, is a reminder that parents care – and they vote.”  

Source: FamilyVoice Australia

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