It's a sorry state of affairs when a vocal minority starts to dictate to even members of that very minority what they can and cannot think. Sadly, that's exactly the place we have now reached in Australia around matters of gender and sexuality.
The current discussion about the so-called 'safe schools' program has been laughable with advocates of the program showing a complete lack of 'tolerance' and full aggression to anyone who doesn't share their bizarre world view.
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Conservatives unswayed by safe schools briefing
Conservatives in the government are skeptical about a review of the safe schools program and remain unswayed by a briefing from the review's author.
This Orwellian program attempts to indoctrinate students as young as eleven with gender fluidity being promoted as a worthwhile and desirable choice for young students. Indeed it goes as far as pushing that gender is not binary (male-female) stereotype but a process of self-expression and "how you feel inside" and "may change over time". Gender should not be reduced to the question "is it a boy or a girl?" because "there are a whole range of human bodies that are somewhere between".
Indeed, Roz Ward, who established the program, when addressing the 2015 Marxism Conference in Melbourne belled the cat on the true intentions by saying "to smooth the operation of capitalism the ruling class has benefited, and continues to benefit, from oppressing our bodies, our relationships, sexuality and gender identities alongside sexism, homophobia and transphobia.
"Both serve to break the spirits of ordinary people, to consume our thoughts, to make us accept the status quo and for us to keep living or aspiring to live, or feel like we should live, in small social units and families where we must reproduce and take responsibility for those people in those units," she said. This in itself shows the bizarre and misguided place that the program comes from.
That said, I don't think that there's any disagreement that bullying is a scourge and must be dealt with, be that bullying around race, gender or indeed sexuality and it is important that bullying as a whole is dealt with at schools but this program is a disgraceful form of social engineering dressed up as an anti-bullying programme. Critics such as education commentator Dr Kevin Donnelly suggest that "Safe Schools Coalition is more about advocacy than simply making schools safer places. Students are being subjected to a concerted and well-resourced campaign enforcing an LGBTI sexuality and gender agenda". I agree with his assessment.
I for one think that it should primarily be up to parents to decide when and how best to educate their children about gender and sexual identity issues but this is somewhat beside the point. The public debate and discourse around the program has been disappointingly reflective of the bullying that takes place by those very advocates of this 'anti-bullying' program. Indeed, anyone who dares suggest that the program is bad policy or bad for the development of children is labelled as extremists, homophobes or bigots. This is both wrong and offensive.
The tragic thing is though that the people attacked are far and wide, including myself. Recently at an event with left-wing students I dared to suggest that there are some very valid concerns about the program and received a full-blown dressing down. When I then said that I was gay I was ridiculed as being 'self-hating', a 'traitor' – and matters only got worse when I told them of my view that marriage should stay as currently defined – this is a prime example of the kind of bullying that the advocates of the programme insist must be dealt with.
I know of countless people in a similar position to me who are gay and conservative who think that the safe schools programme is bad and that marriage should remain the same but who are too afraid to speak out for fear of being attacked by the PC lefty lynch-mob.
Until they can demonstrate the tolerance that they demand of others they have absolutely no leg to stand on especially on the topic of anti-bullying.
It's time that the advocates are held to account on their own propaganda and allow a genuinely open and free discussion without shouting down anyone with a contrary view because at the end of the day the discussion around safe schools should focus on what is in the best interests of the majority of children, not on political correctness and the minority.
As for safe schools, I hope the Education Minister in considering the review decides to defund the programme and redirects it to genuine anti-bullying efforts focused on all students.
Josh Manuatu is the ACT Young Liberal president and a staffer for Liberal Senator Eric Abetz.