OPINION | Wendy Francis
Monday 6 June 2016
From the introduction of the Safe Schools agenda, parents, educators, health professionals and grandparents (that’s where I come in) have been shouting from the rooftops that it is not an anti-bullying program but is instead a radical sex ed programme that is harmful for children.
As aspects of the programme were exposed, the reaction was largely one of disbelief, accompanied by a prevailing sense that it just couldn’t be as bad as it was being made out to be.
Then, one day in Canberra at a Coalition party room meeting, Prime Minister Turnbull came face to face with the explicit nature of the Safe Schools resources. He ordered a review.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham commissioned University of Western Australia Emeritus Professor Bill Louden to conduct the review. He was given just two weeks to examine the programme during which time he visited five of the more than 500 schools that offer the programme and only examined the “official resources”, not the suggested website links and supplementary reading.
Some claimed it was a token review to calm down extreme grandmothers (they can get quite dangerous when protecting their young), but I hoped for the best, and what was revealed in the review, whilst incomplete, did result in immediate action.
The extreme links and role playing activities which used reverse bullying tactics (bullying kids who questioned the new norm) were ordered to be removed.
It was good news, but nevertheless puzzling for many, because they had been told ad nauseum that these links were not part of the programme. How do you remove something that does not exist? Was this just reminiscent of the emperor going through the motion of removing clothing after his grand parade? Actually no. The review recognised that Safe Schools resources promoted websites with extreme sexual practices as being essential for children to access at school.
On Australia’s national day against bullying and violence, Senator Simon Birmingham announced changes to the Safe Schools programme, and Senator Cory Bernardi’s office was trashed by those who supported the anti-bullying program in its entirety.
So, what’s left in the programme, and why are pesky parents, educators, health professionals and grandparents like me, (the sort that get inspiration from stories of Rosa Parks, of William Wilberforce and of Dietrich Bonhoeffer), still speaking out against it?
A Safe Schools definition of bisexuality in class material for 11-14 year olds is, “Not worrying about who I want to like. It’s just meeting a person and being able to say, you’re really nice to me and I like you.”
In examining transgenderism, again with 11-14 year old children, the presenter is a 17 year old who identified as a lesbian 18 months ago but who now identifies as a straight male who is attracted to women and who wants to have a family. He tells the young students in a video presentation that surgery should not be delayed for adolescents wanting to transition from one gender to another.
The most recent article on Safe Schools published in Eternity, spoke of red-baiting and the potential danger of critics of the Safe Schools programme sounding like “cold war museum pieces”. This was in reference to the Marxist views of Roz Ward.
I’m not quite a museum piece yet, and I defend Roz Ward’s personal right to choose to follow Marxist views, but fear of appearing old fashioned will not deter me from speaking up against those views being imposed on our children in school.
We are living in pivotal times in our nation. Our culture has changed hugely over the last decade. We read in Judges 2:10 of a generation that grew up who did not know about God – “After that generation died (Joshua), another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done”.
But there is no crisis in heaven over what’s going on down here. No, God has not given up on this generation. The faithfulness of God continues to all generations. He loves this generation and has a plan for it, revealed by Jesus, which he calls his followers to be part of.
God is looking for modern day Daniels – those who keep themselves undefiled from the world whilst understanding the culture and working within it for its ultimate good. God is looking for Men of Issachar – those who understand the times that they are living in, and know what to do.
Culture can be redeemed by God’s people speaking out truth in love.
In Judges 19:30 God’s people stopped and said to each other – “Think about it! What are we going to do? Who’s going to speak up?”
Wendy Francis is Queensland state director of the Australian Christian Lobby.