Children as young as five have been used for storytime sessions featuring books with transgender characters, introducing concepts ranging from cross-dressing to gender reassignment surgery, as part of a university study being used to advocate for the expansion of the Safe Schools program into primary schools. A Flinders University research team has recommended the gender-diversity program, the curriculum of which is designed for Years 7 and 8, be rolled out to South Australian primary schools, despite a report acknowledging many of the students who participated in the study had struggled to understand some of the narratives. The push comes as the future of the Safe Schools Coalition remains in doubt, with the federal government due to cease its four year $8 million support from the middle of next year.


Originally pitched as an anti-bullying program, Safe Schools has become a politically divisive issue during the past year as details of the curriculum, which teaches students that gender and sexuality are fluid concepts, have emerged. An independent review of the program led to an overhaul. As part of the research project, funded by Flinders University and the Australian Research Council, six picture books featuring transgender characters were read to prep and grade one students over five sessions. One of the books, My New Daddy, written by transgender author and LGBTI rights advocate Lilly Mossiano, follows the tale of a young boy who is told by his mother that “nature made a mistake” and “she should’ve been born a boy like him”.


“Mommy begins transitioning, and Charles calls her daddy,” says the blurb for the book. “Daddy goes to see a doctor and has an operation. Charles now has a new daddy who loves him and he loves his daddy.” The US author has published a similar book, My New Mommy, which was also read to the students, along with When Kathy is Keith and the autobiographical I Am Jazz, which also includes medical themes and language. Christian lobby group Family Voice Australia described the project as “utterly inappropriate”. “It goes without saying that most five and six-year-olds haven’t even worked out the birds and the bees yet,” said Family Voice national policy officer Damian Wyld. “Extreme ideological agendas have no place in classrooms.”


Lyle Shelton from the Australian Christian Lobby, said parents should be concerned “that these academics think primary school children should to be taught that surgery for their mum or dad to change sex is normal”. “After years of public advocacy for the gender requirement to be dropped from marriage, we should not be surprised that some academics want to induct even primary school children into a LGBTI worldview.” News today that academic advocates of so-called Safe Schools want five-year-olds to learn about sex change operations should be of concern to all Australian parents. Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said there seemed to be no end to how far this radical program would encroach into the lives of Australian families trying to raise the next generation of boys and girls.


“After years of being told gender does not matter in marriage law, we should not be surprised that teaching year one children that gender is just a social construct is the next wave of the rainbow flag.” Mr Shelton said revelations today that academics from Adelaide’s Flinders University had conducted an experiment with children as young as five to teach them that sex change surgery for their mother or father was okay, was deeply disturbing. “That these academics are recommending the so-called Safe Schools program be extended to primary schools is beyond belief.” Mr Shelton said the federal government had recently ordered Safe Schools out of primary schools yet these academics were experimenting in primary schools and by their own admission, confusing children. 

One of Australia’s leading supporters of same-sex marriage, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, has said anyone who opposes “Safe Schools” is a bigot and he is making the program compulsory in government high schools from 2018. “The Australian people will soon be asked to vote in a plebiscite on changing the Marriage Act, and the consequences of this potential change are already there for families to see. “All Australians need to take a close look when they vote to decide whether or not the gender requirement should be removed from the Marriage Act.” The experiment was part of a broader research project that culminated in a recent report: Exploring trans and gender diverse issues in primary education in South Australia, by Clare Bartholomaeus, Damien Riggs and Yarrow Andrew.


The project was supported by the South Australian division of the Safe Schools Coalition, which helped to distribute surveys to teachers and teaching students. Dr Bartholomaeus and Professor Riggs have conducted extensive research on LGBTI issues, while Professor Riggs is national convener of the Australian Psychological Society’s interest group on gay and lesbian issues and the editor of its journal, the Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review. A single class of 21 students took part in the project, which had ethics approval from the Adelaide-based university as well as parental consent. The report details some of the children’s reactions to the stories, which ranged from “he wants to wear a dress like girls so he said ‘I wanna be a girl'” to “I liked the story because the mum turned into a boy”.


Some seemed to be confused, however, saying “I didn’t understand, is it a boy or a girl?” “or students who were not familiar with the topic, some of the narratives made little sense, although understanding appeared to increase across the sessions,” the report says. “Informed teaching would allow a space to provide explanations and explore students’ questions in order to increase knowledge and contribute to more inclusive school cultures.” The report laments a lack of opportunities for educators’ professional development in the area of transgender issues as well as a broader climate of “misunderstanding and fear, evidenced in recent debates about the Safe Schools Coalition”.


The push goes against the findings of the independent review into the program, conducted by emeritus professor Bill Louden in March, which found some of its content and resources were not appropriate for young students. Program materials were audited and censored as a result. More than 500 schools nationwide have so far signed up to the program. In South Australia, where 48 schools were registered at the end of 2015, the program is facilitated by SHine SA, with funding from Foundation for Young Australians. SHine SA, received $119,836 last year to run the program said. An FYA spokeswoman said “There is widespread community support for Safe Schools Coalition Australia and the Foundation for Young Australians will continue to work with all states and territories to deliver support and advice for teachers”.


Source: Compiled by APN from Australian Christian Lobby

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Researchers who read stories about gender transitioning to children as young as five are calling for all state schools to introduce gender-neutral toilets. Work by Flinders University academics, has drawn criticism for introducing Year 1 students to books with transgender characters, such as mothers transitioning to fathers, and concluding that the Safe Schools program should be rolled into primary schools despite the transgender books confusing some of the students involved in an Adelaide trial. Authors Clare Bartholomaeus, Damien Riggs and Yarrow Andrew have also called for resources about gender diversity, such as picture books, to be made available to preschool, primary and secondary students, as well as other measures to help schools “create inclusive whole school cultures”. 

They recommend South Australia’s Education Department, which approved and organised their study, redesign toilets on all education sites as they are upgraded or newly built to better support gender diversity. The issue of gender neutral toilets has sparked controversy in the US, where North Carolina has enacted a law mandating that people use only bathrooms which correspond to the sex on their birth certificate in government buildings, including schools. The move prompted celebrities and corporations to boycott the state, while similar moves in other states have been so far stymied. Gender-neutral toilets are not common in Australian schools, but are being introduced in universities.


South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has voiced support for a primary school expansion of the Safe Schools program, while deflecting questions on whether five was too young for children to understand gender transitioning. “What I support is the right of children to go to school free of bullying,” he said. “I support schools using their own professional judgment to utilise the materials that may be available to them to actually deal with that issue in the schools.” His Education Minister, Susan Close, reiterated that Safe Schools material was meant for high school students, “with primary schools only receiving support from the service provider for individual matters”.


“While I support teaching children of all ages that difference doesn’t justify bullying in any circumstance, having not funded or commissioned this research, the Department for Education in South Australia is under no obligation to enact any of the recommendations from the report,” she said. A review of the Safe Schools program, initiated by the Turnbull government, found some of its content and resources were not appropriate for young students, prompting the government to revise its material and direct it towards only secondary schools. Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said he had no quarrel with the Flinders study since parental permission had been obtained from the students involved.


A university spokeswoman declined to provide a copy of the consent form but said Flinders was “satisfied that parents were comprehensively informed about the detail of the research”. “The form clearly states that an aim of the project is to explore how primary school students understand picture books that include trans or gender diverse characters,” she said. “Information was provided about support for children should any be discomforted.”


Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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News that Cairn’s MP Rob Pyne’s abortion ’till birth’ bill is dead has been welcomed by the Australian Christian Lobby. Its spokesperson for human rights for the unborn, Wendy Francis, said it was good to see pro abortion members of the Queensland Parliament expressing their opposition to late term abortion. “Judging by the mood of the Parliamentary hearings and comments from pro abortion MPs, it is clear that abortion “till birth” is not supported,” Ms Francis said. “MPs still wishing to see changes to abortion law now need to explain to the community where they would draw the line in determining whether an unborn baby lives or dies,” she says. “After 40 years of liberal abortion policy, public and political opinion acknowledge that late term abortion is wrong. The question now is where the line for life or death is drawn.”


Ms Francis said pro-life groups in Queensland had done a tremendous job in heading off Mr Pyne’s push for Victorian style abortion laws which allow babies to be killed right up to birth for no medical reason. “The Pyne bill process has revealed harrowing stories of babies born alive after botched abortions gasping for air and being allowed to die,” she said. “Things cannot be the same for the abortion industry in Queensland after what we have learned.” Ms Francis has written to the coroner seeking clarification on whether or not two cases of healthy babies born alive after failed abortions, had been investigated.


Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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