NEWS | Anne Lim
Tuesday 23 February 2016
The controversial Safe Schools Coalition programme is to be independently reviewed in response to concerns raised by various groups in recent weeks.
The federal Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, said he was seeking an independent review of the material and use to ensure the programme was appropriate to meet its objectives.
“Homophobia should be no more tolerated than racism, especially in the school environment,” Senator Birmingham said in a statement released today.
“However, it is essential that all material is age appropriate and that parents have confidence in any resources used in a school to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school.”
The review will provide advice to the Minister by the middle of March.
Meanwhile, Senator Birmingham has written to state and territory Education Ministers asking them to confirm that parents are being consulted before schools introduce the programme.
The Australian Christian Lobby welcomed the review, which was reportedly instigated by the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said bullying children for any reason was unacceptable but the Safe Schools programme went way beyond the purview of an anti-bullying programme.
“Parents expect their children to be safe at school but encouraging boys who identify as girls to use the girls’ bathrooms and share school camp accommodation is not the way to do this,” he said.
Mr Shelton said many parliamentarians were unaware of what Safe Schools promotes to children as young as four.
“Telling four-year-olds that no one can tell you what gender you are is confusing and indoctrination in contested and dangerous gender theory,” he said.
He urged the government to immediately pay out its contract with the programme providers.
“The break fee would be a small price to pay to ensure all children could be safe at school,” he said.