Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is under pressure from a section of party MPs to stop funding the Safe School program. Their charge is that the controversial program spoils school kids by teaching them matters related to homosexuality.
Turnbull has called for a report of the controversial program. The PM’s action was hailed by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and called it a win against “rainbow ideology,” wherein the ACL had been recently campaigning against Safe Schools. According to the group, the program teaches chest-binding in girls and penis-tucking for boys, reports News Corp.
However, Turnbull was slammed by the opposition and teachers’ unions, saying that the PM was yielding to the conservative backbenchers on the $8 million Safe Schools program. According to News.com.au, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called the Prime Minister’s move “disgraceful.” He said an Australian child will be falling victim to Turnbull’s inability to stand up to the right wingers in his party.
The Safe School program claims it is about promoting acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) students. The Safe Schools manual was conceived by the previous Labor government, but it was the Coalition that launched it in 2014. The protests against the Safe Schools have intensified in recent weeks, with many conservative politicians, Christian groups, and media joining in the chorus.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham supported the program, but the upcoming review will tell the Minister whether the program’s material is “age appropriate” or not. Many coalition MPs are still vocal in their protest, calling it a “Marxist agenda.” Leading this attack is Conservative Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi. On Tuesday, he presented a mass petition to the Senate with 9,500 signatures where urged immediate scrapping of all federal funding to the program.
Calling the program “inappropriate and radical,” the MP argued that it was weird that 11-year-olds being persuaded into thinking that they are sexually attracted to other people. Reacting to the criticism, the Safe Schools Coalition said it would welcome “all opportunities to demonstrate the positive impact” of the program.
““I’m not entirely sure what Senator Bernardi is concerned about,” national program Director Sally Richardson told ABC Radio, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
Nearly 500 schools have signed up for the Safe Schools Coalition Australia. Its website claims members can access free support for responding to “homophobic and transphobic behaviour and to actively create inclusive policies and practices.”