Dear Safe Schools Coalition: I Have Questions

An Open Letter To The Australian Safe Schools Coalition.

Dear Safe Schools Coalition,

I understand it’s been a big week for you, with so much media exposure. No doubt you’re feeling under the spotlight.

And yet, you’re determined to continue your work, which you describe as:

[M] aking a difference in the lives of thousands of young people across Australia by saying no to homophobic and transphobic behaviour and implementing practical steps to foster safe, positive and supportive schools for everyone’.

I certainly support the aim of ending bullying, and making school a positive experience for everyone: that’s a very worthwhile goal, if ever there was one. 

LGBTI flag

And yet, after reading some of your recommended material for public school students, I’ve become concerned: concerned about your material’s appropriateness for a public school setting.

(Not least because I too have children in a local public school).

And so I’ve got a few questions for you, which I’d love you to answer.

These are as follows:

1) Do you think it’s possible to love and support LGBTI students, and yet have a different view of sexuality and gender?

As I said, I love the fact that you’re against bullying, and that you want all students to be supported.

But your material seems to assume that the only way to support LGBTI students is to  agree with, and celebrate the LGBTI view of sexuality and gender.

Am I right in saying that?

Or do you think it’s possible to love someone in a very real way, even though you might hold different views about deeply personal issues, such as sexuality and gender?

2) Must all school students at a ‘Safe School’ subscribe to the LGBTI (non-hetero-normative) view of sexuality/gender, in order to create a safe environment for LGBTI students?

One criticism raised against the Safe Schools curriculum is that your material goes beyond ‘let’s stop bullying LGBTI people’, to promoting the LGBTI view of gender and sexuality in public schools.

With respect, after looking at your material, I found it hard to disagree with this allegation.

But does a school community need to accept the LGBTI view of sexuality/gender, for it to be considered a welcoming place for LGBTI students?

To use a similar example, would a public school with Muslim students need to accept the Islamic worldview (e.g. ‘there is no God but Allah, and Muhammed is his messenger’) for it to be considered a welcoming and supportive place for Muslim students?

Or can there be worldview diversity amongst the student body (including on sexuality/gender matters), with the school still being a supportive place for all students?

3) Do students at a ‘Safe School’ have a right to hold their own diverse views about sexuality/gender, and openly express those views, without pressure or vilification?

As you know, students in our public schools come from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds: many of these students and their parents have different views about gender and sexuality than the Safe Schools material.

But do Safe Schools respect these student’s rights to hold their own views, and express those views in appropriate and civil ways?

Or is there pressure in Safe Schools – whether from the school or the student body – to accept only your account of gender and human sexuality (with administrative or social consequences (e.g. bullying from peers) if a student expresses a different view)?

4) If a student identifies as transgender, how do you care for them?

I see you’re in partnership with another website, minus 18. No doubt you’re aware this website recommends dangerous practices such breast-binding for females, even though it readily admits:

[Chest binding] has a level of risk attached to it… it has the potential to be lethal.’

Yet nowhere on that web-page does it even recommend getting medical advice before undergoing such a procedure.

That raises some very urgent questions for me:

Where’s the duty of care to these very vulnerable young people?

Wouldn’t medical ethics demand that student’s wellbeing only be managed with the support of their parents, the school, and health professionals, and not through DIY website advice?

Why partner with a website that recommends procedures – without medical supervision – that could be extremely harmful to young people’s health?

Parents Are Understandably Concerned.

We want all students to be safe at school and free from bullying, whatever their identity. But my concern is that your material risks not only causing harm to some of the vulnerable LGBTI students (e.g. through the minus18 website), but it also creates another class of ‘outcasts’, whose only crime is to hold a different view of sexuality/gender than Safe Schools.

A Different Way Ahead That We Can Both Agree On?

In our pluralistic society, wouldn’t it be better to help students respect other people simply because they’re people, who have intrinsic worth  (whom Christians believe are made in God’s image)? Surely this would prepare them well to live as tolerant citizens in a pluralistic society – where they’ll rub shoulders with people of all sorts of different views and identities.

Looking forward to your reply,

Akos Balogh

 

 

UPDATE: Friday 19th Feb,  4pm.

Maggie Hill from Safe Schools Coalition was kind enough to get back to me.

She wrote:

Thanks for getting in touch re SSCA. The fast facts page on FYA’s website should provide answers to some of the questions you have raised on your website. http://www.fya.org.au/2016/02/12/fast-facts-about-safe-schools-coalition-australia/

Feel free to get in touch if you need anything further.

Kind regards,

Maggie

(Thankyou Maggie!).

Whilst the resource does provide some explanation, I don’t feel it addresses my questions directly enough, so have asked Maggie for more specific answers to my particular questions. 

I’ll update as more information arrives.

Photo: Dollarphotoclub.com

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88 thoughts on “Dear Safe Schools Coalition: I Have Questions

  1. Good writing Akos. Did you send this letter to SSC? I agree with how you say that it seems SSC material is pushing a view of sexuality coupled with intolerance for any opposing view,generally labelled as bigotry.

    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I have sent it to them, and asked them to reply in the comments section here.
      God bless brother!

  2. Good questions Akos, I hope you get an answer. I couldn’t help noticing the complete absence of any reference to parents in the SSC guide. On one level this is a matter for the Education Dept, but I do wonder if SSC have a deliberate strategy of attempting to get this material before students without their parent’s knowledge. This was apparent in the Gayby Baby issues at Burwood High.

    • Hi Steve!

      Thanks for chiming in!

      Yes, I think many parents are wondering the same thing, about this being implemented in their kid’s public school with very little notice, let alone consultation.

      God bless,

      Akos

    • There are many people who regard individuals (including children) as the ‘property’ or responsibility of the State. Therefore, parents have only a marginal role to play in a child’s development limited to procreation and general when not being ‘cared for’ by the State at it’s various institutions – eg. child care (where this is State run and/or controlled), school and, incrreasinigly, university.

  3. Give me a child of seven and i will give you a man of seventy” so goes the old quote. It would appear that SSC is trying to mould children to its agenda without a care for anyone else. Akin to a Dictatorial viewpoint

  4. Dear Akos,
    Now don’t get me started on the ‘Safe’ Schools Coalition…
    We had our son enrolled in an Anglican school, which we learned later (to our grief) had signed up to the SSC (see below). But that is nothing to be surprised about in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. And with the Marxist Andrews Government in Victoria, its all gung-ho with SSC and associated agendas – so the Public schooling system was off our agenda. Where did that lead conservative, reformed, evangelical parents to send their son? – The Catholic system.

    Here is the rant by Anglican School principal in their regular school news bulletin:
    “Last Sunday a group of students and staff joined in with the thousands of others who marched through St Kilda in the Midsumma Pride March. Marching with other members of the Safe Schools Coalition, it was an absolute joy to hear the acclaim of those watching the march and to know that, as a member of the coalition, we are a community striving to make our school a safe place for all children regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, or sexual identity.”

    Note the use of the word ‘acclaim’. I wonder what that word might be if translated into Greek? Possibly similar to ‘approve’ in Romans 1:32 (“Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them”).

    Malcolm

    • Hi Malcolm,

      It’s quite surprising to hear that an Anglican school has signed up to SSC.

      We live in interesting times.

      It seems the Catholics are holding true to their view of human sexuality.

      Thanks for your comment!

      • Thank you, Akos, for your thoughtful letter to SSCA.
        I’ll be interested to see if you get a response from them. Unfortunately, the program itself has not been written and designed by impartial and independent academics – it has been written by people who are advocates and activists for the homosexual cause. The SSCA program was initially a project of Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria and the Rainbow Network, and the ‘All Of Us’ curriculum was co-written by Minus 18 and SSCA.
        Quite a number of Anglican schools are a part of the SSCA. As you say, the Catholic Schools have generally not joined, although the List of Member Schools shows one that is a member. The full list is at http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org.au/safe-schools/
        Thanks again!

      • Hi Akos! Yes the C of E is a *very* broad church! I thought your readers may wish to be linked in to the ACM (Dr David Van Gend’s Australian Marriage forum. Also there is a petition for getting the safe schools coalition removed. I am very worried about a relative who loves acting and music who just began year 7. I worry that he may be singled out as a girl type boy, or something worse and that because of the program, him or others like him could be labelled falsely. I feel awful even typing this because it is a fear and as a Christian I am bound to love others, face my fears – but it aint easy right now. I read the second letter of Peter and although yes I do love people whatever their walk is – but it is very, very difficult to know how to cope when the homosexual lobby is going after our kids. i will continue to pray on this – I think a large fellowship would be a great step. If the mums and dads of australia can meet up in their local school or church halls and pray on this I trust we will all be in a better place – and be better people – that if we do not. So how about it? I feel like the world is going nuts…and just off the top of my head, I think we should be meditating on this, finding scriptures to study, meeting some new friends and allies, and taking it to the Lord in prayer…or a community prayer group!

      • Is anyone going to comment on the fact that Malcolm commented that homosexuals deserve death? Is that your idea of loving homosexuals and living alongside them. No wonder they hate Christians.

        • Hi Dan,

          Malcolm was quoting a part of the Bible which declares that the whole human race deserves death, because of our rejection of God (see in particular Romans 1:18ff).

          And death is what we *all* get at the end of this short life…

          • Hi Dan,

            The list of things that ‘deserve death’ is quite representative of evil human behaviour (vv28-31): envy, gossips, disobedient to parents…everyone is ultimately condemned, and according to v32 ‘deserves to die’.

            (I think Malcolm would be the first to admit that).

            I’m not sure how saying that is ‘disingenious’.

            The point Malcolm is making (I think) is that God condemns homosexual behaviour…but if you read on, the whole world (not just homosexual people) is under God’s condemnation (Rom 3:20).

            The good news of Christianity is that God offers forgiveness for everyone: for free (!) (no stairway to heaven to climb), but Paul doesn’t get there until Rom 3:21ff:

            ’23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,’

            Anyone* who bows the knee to Jesus is forgiven.

            One implication is that Christians can’t think themselves any better, or more worthy, than anyone else: we’re all under the same condemnation…it’s just that we’ve found forgiveness: which we want to tell others about.

            Another implication is that Christians can’t approve of, or celebrate the desires/actions that God condemns.

            Sorry that this is such a long answer, but it is a sensitive issue that needs to be unpacked.

            P.S. You might want to read another post I did on how Christians need to do a better job at loving gay people:

            http://akosbalogh.com/2015/03/20/do-we-love-gay-people/

    • I’m in shock… a Christian school… I don’t know what to say.. they are lost and an enemy of the good, a wolf in sheeps clothing, so sad

  5. Amos, can I suggest an important edit in an otherwise excellent and useful post. You refer to ‘the LGBTI view of sexuality and gender’ as if there were a monolithic and uncontested perspective. There is no such single ‘view’, and there are two other reasons for not describing it as such: (a) firstly, because it feels out of touch with individual people who are LGBTI or supportive, and the reality is that within the feminist (including feminist L) space, there is widespread rejection of many of the claims arising from within the TI space; (b) secondly, it does make it feel like it is conservatives vs progressives, whereas many progressives are deeply uncomfortable with, for example, young women being required to share a change room with a self-identified gender-fluid biological male.

    • Hi Mike!

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment: yes, you make a great point.

      I guess I was just assuming that Safe Schools had the monopoly on the LGBTI view of sexuality, but as you rightly point out, that’s not a good assumption to make!

      I certainly don’t want to be insensitive to the nuances of the LGBT movement (just as I appreciate non-Christians being sensitive to the nuances of the Christian perspective).

      What would you recommend I change it to (I’ll await your reply before making changes).

      God bless,

      Akos

      • Peter Tatchell, the Australian-born British-based human rights campaigner is a great example of a gay rights activist who has demonstrated skepticism towards some of the claims arising out of the TI sphere. Germaine Greer represents a large swathe of the feminist movement in claiming that transgender women are parodies grounded in a comic construction of femininity. Neither of these is conservative or sympathetic to Christian viewpoints.

  6. Interesting read. You can’t compare religion and sexuality though. Religion is something that a person chooses. Sexuality is not.

    • Thanks for the comment KJ!

      Whether it’s chosen or innate (e.g. skin colour) is irrelevant to my example: the point is that we don’t need to accept a person’s view of life (be it sexual ethics, or religion), to accept or love them, nor to make the school a welcoming environment for them.

    • Hi KJ, I guess you say this because you think sexuality comes from deeper in the human psyche than religion and therefore deserves more respect.
      Yet I’m not sure it’s right that religion is “chosen.” Usually it’s born of a network of convictions that arise from social environment, experience and reason – all of which can be just as powerful as sexual longing for some people.
      I think it’s a pretty tough call to tell a someone raised, say, in a Muslim family, that they must change their ideas about sex simply because “my sexual identity trumps your ethnic/religious identity”. Don’t you?

    • So a lesbian starts dating a male and then marries him? Did she choose to change? Sexuality is a choice, no matter how much you sugarcoat it.

    • K J – On what do you base your statement that “Sexuality is not a choice”. After a huge 50 year investment in time and money to discover the ‘gay gene’ the sheet is still blank.
      In fact geneticists will tell you that they have not discovered any Gene that ’causes’ any social behaviour. Even those supporting the ‘born that way theory’, including the American Psychological Association with its own ‘gay and lesbian advisory group’, have now had to accept a ‘nurture and nature’ position and admit they don’t know what ’causes it’. If you do, you might like to advise them.
      Let me add that it is clear many same sex attracted people don’t make a conscious ‘choice’ to be same-sex attracted, just as in many a thief may not set out consciously to steal – something happens – and they find themselves in that situation.
      Many homosexuals who seek help for their SSA say they were abused sexually by an older man, but there are many other ’causes’ – such as an emotional reaction to a traumatic family circumstance – family violence, family breakdown, etc.
      So let us not set in concrete something that is clearly not so by telling children that it is, that SSA is ‘Normal’, and even worse, that it is healthy, because it isn’t. The homosexual lifestyle carries an increased risk of HIV/AIDS,STDs and anal cancer, as well as increased chances of drug and alcohol abuse. If you don’t believe me, refer to and

  7. Akos, do you really support a values-neutral anti-bullying program? It seems to me a little inconsistent for you to say on the one hand that we should allow condemnation or non-acceptance of the LGBTI lifestyle (if not the people themselves) as you do in points 1 and 2, and then say that we should have a program that encourages respect of all other people because they’re people (last para). At some point, you have to recognise that there’s a tension between the two.

    • Hi Matthew!

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, there is an apparent tension.

      Can you disagree with someone, and yet love and respect them dearly?

      Ask anyone who has kids, and they’ll give you the answer (‘yes’). 🙂

      God bless,

      Akos

    • Hi Matthew,

      My previous comment wasn’t meant to be flippant: you ask a very serious and important question.

      I just wanted to point out that human experience teaches us that yes, we can love someone who we might disagree with.

      Blessings,

      Akos

  8. This is a well written letter. I certainly couldn’t have worded it better myself. There’s no doubt that these questions need to be asked.

    In our mutual interest, I wonder if I could express some constructive arguments and hear your thoughts on this these, as I am genuinely interested more in learning to communicate better, than I am arguing a point, so please keep that in mind as I post here my thoughts.

    The dialogue itself is near perfect, but I wonder if much thought has gone into really paving a way for a differing outcome, considering how the SSC may receive a letter like this.

    It would be unwise for the SSC to respond with anything but the same level of courtesy and respect, however, I think of the circumstances, reasoning, worldview, history, and overall context of similar minded people to those governing the SSC, and I believe that the questions you’ve asked are easily refuted when you consider what really motivates them to action, and what is influential enough to inspire change, as opposed to just a mere opportunity to publish “Our response to the an open Letter”.

    I personally don’t question the motivation and genuineness of organisations like SSC. I highly respect their endurance, persistence, self sacrifice for a cause, vulnerability, and consistency – Attributes i only wish more Christians would display. There’s no doubt that there is misleading information, manipulation, deception, a disregard for the demonstrably negative consequences of this behavior and lifestyle, and a deliberate ignorance of the testimonies of *former* LGBTI people who cry out to be heard.

    —– But —–

    This is *no* different to the tactics that any organisation uses when promoting/defending their cause. Churches, Media, Activist groups, Advertising, Political Campaigns, any clever outreach will use manipulation into order to be on a level playing field. I don’t endorse it, but the thing is, not all of it is deliberate and pre-conspired, and not all of it is based on factual information. The SSC could be mistaken, be victims of manipulation themselves, but the thing about blindness, is that you can’t see what you don’t see. Too often I feel that we speak out playing the same game with no substantial backing or awareness of who we are speaking too, and why they believe what they believe.

    Without trying too particularly hard, let me give you an example of how I may refute your letter if I was an administrator of the SSC:

    —————START OF LETTER——————

    “Thank you for your letter asking these important questions, and for the opportunity to respond. While we may have differing beliefs, I believe we have the same goal. Please let me respond to some of your points which I am hopeful will clarify some things for our mutual benefit:

    Q: 1) Do you think it’s possible to love and support LGBTI students, and yet have a different view of sexuality and gender?

    A: Of course, only x% of people after all identify as LGBTI …. etc.

    Q: But your material seems to assume that the only way to support LGBTI students is to agree with, and celebrate the LGBTI view of sexuality and gender. Am I right in saying that? Or do you think it’s possible to love someone in a very real way, even though you might hold different views about deeply personal issues, such as sexuality and gender?

    A: Our goal is to recognise and protect the individuals who have been, to a largely undocumented and unpublicised extent; ridiculed, abused, outcasted, shamed, and live in fear. I would like to counter your question by asking why you would not celebrate people being allowed to express themselves for who they are, and celebrate with them? Being involved and connected to the LGBTI community opens ones mind in ways that articles and opinion pieces, just cannot. When you live and share in the lives of such precious, talented, humorous, and inspiring people, and hear their stories, it is admittedly very difficult to understand why anyone would ask for the right to legally oppose, or put less than equal benefits in place, toward people who have done absolutely no wrong. To answer your question directly: I am not sure. I am yet to experience seeing a demonstration of love toward LGBTI people from those who have different views.

    Q: 2) ….But does a school community need to accept the LGBTI view of sexuality/gender, for it to be considered a welcoming place for LGBTI students?

    A: A hospital is a welcoming place for sick people, but not for sickness itself. Sickness cannot be helped any more than someones identity can be. Yes, we are in the midst of positive change where we are heading toward a school community that accepts LGBTI students in the same way that they accept indigenous students, disabled students, and special needs students.

    Q: To use a similar example, would a public school with Muslim students need to accept the Islamic worldview (e.g. ‘there is no God but Allah, and Muhammed is his messenger’) for it to be considered a welcoming and supportive place for Muslim students?

    A: Your question is ambiguous on one important point: Are you asking if the school needs to accept that the worldview represents the absolute truth? Or are you asking if it needs to accept that Muslims accept this as truth ? Public schools are largely diverse and strongly encourage acceptance of people for who they are and strongly discourage acts of hate and discrimination against any group.

    Q: Or can there be worldview diversity amongst the student body (including on sexuality/gender matters), with the school still being a supportive place for all students?

    A: As evident in my answer to the above question, we are very much in agreement on this point

    3) Do students at a ‘Safe School’ have a right to hold their own diverse views about sexuality/gender, and openly express those views, without pressure or vilification?

    A: Where those views are not pressuring or vilifying in themselves toward others, then of course.

    Q: Or is there pressure in Safe Schools – whether from the school or the student body – to accept only your account of gender and human sexuality (with administrative or social consequences (e.g. bullying from peers) if a student expresses a different view)?

    A: This is not the purpose of what we stand for or any other LGBTI group that I know of. Much of what we seek to achieve is not protection from the general public, but to universally educate people and raise awareness of the struggle that young people have to go through, often alone, and promote and celebrate what they have achieved in spite of this, in order to give hope to those going through something similar and to gradually reduce the popularity and social tolerance of hate groups and discrimination.

    Q: 4) If a student identifies as transgender, how do you care for them? … I see you’re in partnership with another website, minus 18. No doubt you’re aware this website recommends dangerous practices such breast-binding for females, even though it readily admits: [Chest binding] has a level of risk attached to it… it has the potential to be lethal.’ …………

    A: We are proud to work with minus18. Though you portray it as a dangerous and medically unsound concerning resource, I’d like you to be aware that it is not a medical authority, nor does it claim to be. There are many resources and useful information, with much research gathered together for availability and support. The post you are referring to was a user blog, and from my opinion, was written with the sole intention of having safer information available, in place of the alternate of nothing. It was not a closed post, there are comments and concerns expressed freely that any reader can see as clearly as the rest of it. The moment that you start to moderate a community from speaking freely, is the moment people stop opening up and engaging in constructive conversation.

    May I turn your question on it’s head and ask you this: Do you think that public restrooms should abandon syringe deposit units, or condom machines in the hope that if people have nowhere to dispose of their syringe then they will simply just give up the drug habit ? Or instead of risking unsafe sex, just take a pass ?

    We want all students to be safe at school and free from bullying, whatever their identity. But my concern is that your material risks not only causing harm to some of the vulnerable LGBTI students (e.g. through the minus18 website), but it also creates another class of ‘outcasts’, whose only crime is to hold a different view of sexuality/gender than Safe Schools.

    Q: A Different Way Ahead That We Can Both Agree On?.. In our pluralistic society, wouldn’t it be better to help students respect other people simply because they’re people, who have intrinsic worth (whom Christians believe are made in God’s image)? Surely this would prepare them well to live as tolerant citizens in a pluralistic society – where they’ll rub shoulders with people of all sorts of different views and identities.

    A: Well, I think we are both aiming for the same thing here!

    Can i take this opportunity to invite you to our event coming up ? It would be good to talk further, and I would love to hear your thoughts after hearing from some people who are sharing their courageous story that night…

    Best Regards,

    SSC

    ————–END OF LETTER——————

    Now even if this is so far from what their response might be, what it does do, is demonstrate how ineffective the questions are when addressing a group that has put so much on the line for what they stand for.

    Do you expect people without their own eye-opening revelation to accept your truth based on words alone ?

    From all the testimonies that I have heard, the influential factor causing mindsets to shift has invariably been the outward demonstration of Christs love. The unusual and illogical protection of an LGBTI outcast by a Christian person, despite their differing beliefs, is the most true representation of Christs love which is where the power to change the world really comes into play. The second commandment seems a little far fetched until you realise that it literally does take that measure of faith and love to make a difference.

    We seem to do things backwards, speak first before the weight and authority comes naturally, and then chase our tails defending our ever so hard cause.

    I wonder how many Christian groups have stopped to consider that if they practised treating people as the Lord commanded, then there would be no need for an SSC, and groups like it wouldn’t see the light of day, because why would they be needed if we didn’t take it upon ourselves to judge people in the first place?

    • Sadly Ben K we do not live in a perfect world made up of a majority of Christians – we battle against principalities and poweres in the Heavenly real that play out their agenda in the real one. This program has been devised by homosexual activists not nice well rounded people who care for our children.
      Yes, if more of us “practised treating people as the Lord commanded, then there MAY be LESS need for an SSC. But we have to live in the real world not some hypothetical one.
      This is not a case of “Judging people”, it is a case of making wise judgements about an agenda being pushed on to our children and trying to stop that agenda. An agenda that just happens to be the brainwashing of our children to accept that same-sex attraction is normal, healthy, and a behaviour and type of relationship we should all endorse. Even worse, it is being paid for by the government and made compulsory in our schools.

    • Hi Ben!

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      I think the key issue that we need to be clear on is this:

      1) Does Safe Schools promote the celebration of sex, and sexual desire, outside of (heterosexual) marriage?

      And thus:

      2) If so, then what happens to people who might not want to celebrate sex, and sexual desire, that is outside of heterosexual marriage?

      In other words, the key issue is the *celebration* of *sexual desire*, and *sexual acts*, outside of marriage.

      As far as I can tell, SSC is not about *merely* about celebrating *people* – all Christians are bound to do that *genuinely* if they’re followers of Jesus.

      I think Jesus got it spot on when he loved *ALL* people (even people who lived in extramarital sexual relationships – see John Chapter 4), and yet, he held up God’s standard of marriage as unchanging (i.e. Matt 19:1-12).

      What Jesus did, Christians are commanded to do likewise.

      Which means we must, and will, celebrate *people*, and love *people* (without demanding they change to be accepted by us as *people*), but we can’t celebrate what God doesn’t see as good, i.e. sexual desire, and sexual acts outside of marriage.

      And so, my concern with safe schools is that it pressures students to celebrate extra-marital *sexual desire*, not just *people*.

      Does that make sense?

      • Hi Akos,

        Thanks for the further insight, on what is indeed a challenging issue for me.

        What you say does make sense, I just wonder if the key issue really is what you say it is. Two followup angles to that statement:

        1) I believe the response, or at least the “official position” of the SSC, in answer to your points, is that this program is very much more geared around the protection, and inclusion of people, rather than the exclusion, or vilification of heterosexual, or religious people.

        2) Even if the official position is not the real agenda, or even if the position was publicly and proudly promote and celebrate LGBT lifestyles and pre-maritual sex, I still wonder what use a Christian viewpoint is, if it is not predominately based on precisely what you’ve mentioned above regarding Matt 19. What about Matt 7, John 8, etc..

        Christian doctrine makes sense to Christians, but there seems to be an enormous misperception of the weight of our truth in how the world receives it. If we know truth, why do we feel threatened, speak out, and then feel like the world is against us, ever so commonly blaming “the enemy”. Now I do agree as Peter mentioned that the fight is not in flesh and blood, and that so much of this deception has been craftily structured at a much higher level. But so also was it structured knowing our very limitations and how we would respond.

        Look in the media at how demonized the ACC has been lately.

        In my experience, Churches have been given grants, exemptions, and protections, when they have shown community contribution, and positive impact. People have come to know the Lord when Christians have illogically treated them like people despite their actions that the world would so quickly condemn, and taken them into their homes. Unfortunately, what I also see, is when Christians take it upon themselves to try and stand up at the wrong time, at the wrong place, leaving a bad taste in everyones mouth when they argue from a logical and moral foundation that does not have a common ground with the people they are communicating to.

        Jesus spoke relevant to the crowd. He corrected his disciples, and taught them to speak truth and correction to each other, but to the crowd, he was gentle, and his words had authority, he fed the poor, gave shelter to the homeless.

        We are fighting a “socially-admirable” program, with “socially-admirable” philosophy, with actions and doctrine that we justify to ourselves because of our truth, that makes sense to us, whilst getting offended by the public response and taking up a fight that isn’t our fight.

        I wonder if perhaps our children should already have a strongly established identity before being exposed to a program like this ? Does parenting still play a part here?

        I think my overall theme is that there’s a wave of coldness associated with “Christians” and “Christian Groups” at the moment, and it’s not the kind of coldness that Jesus received in going to the cross, it seems to be an un-neccessary coldness that comes from nothing other than narrow minded thinking, acting out of a place of feeling threatened, and not enough concern for people in the driving force for our actions.

        I’m the farthest thing from a pacifist, and I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, but, it seems to me, we are focusing on the manipulation, and trying to “expose”, and “challenge”, as opposed to looking for the reasons why someone might feel they need to do that in the first place. I believe sexuality is a choice, but I absolutely don’t think for a moment that a homosexual feels that way. If we only strived to change absolutely nothing about the way we do things, except to only live a week in someone else’s shoes before doing them, I think it would be a different story, and we would be a group that would be sought out because people will want what we have, not the awful picture of Christianity that I am ashamed to see at the moment, from celebrities, to activists.

  9. Well said.

    In reading the comments here I am led to say that any so called ‘christian’ church that supports anything against the bible is not from God and is a FAKE Christian church infiltrated by Satan. They are wolves in sheep clothing.

    We are in end times and the world will continue to support Islam and everyone’s so called rights and continue to shush the mouths of Christians. Jesus said ‘they hated me and they will hate you also’. Christians are the only people that are not allowed to hold their own opinion apparently.

    When we cease to have an opinion we cease to live!

    Apparently people in the world think everything is ok and that God approves of everything. Heck we may as well mix homosexuality with polygamy, declare everyone in the world married to each other and then sleep with whomever we like with no conscience at all. God apparently approves of every form of disorder no matter how small. Apparently its just a joke that If God approves of a tiny bit of disorder that he shouldn’t be responsible for all the occurances of it. Apparently God is unjust and so he can allow some tiny bits of human disorder and not other amounts. Apparently God is just a pushover who won’t seek to punish anyone! Apparently we don’t need God cause we have more knowledge that he does. Well my response to this is ‘this is the stupidity of the final beast in its finest form’ the horns of antidescrimination coupled with breath of fire!
    Repent and be saved as we cannot live inGods presence without salvation from Jesus death and resurrection and without sanctification of the fruit of repentance.

  10. Thanks for a measured article. I represent only myself as an interested parent.

    Is question 1 a reformulation of the idea that we can love the sinner but hate the sin? Is it possible to love the person and reject their fundamental expression of themselves? My own view is that you can only love someone in as much as you can understand them.

    “to love someone in a very real way, even though you might hold different views about deeply personal issues, such as sexuality and gender”. I love you, though how you feel, who you love and how you love them are wrong, evil, and sin against God. This feels like a disdainful, arms length, fingers holding the nose kind of love. The recipient of this kind of love, experiences it as hate. This is why your views are easy to confuse with bigotry, because it doesn’t feel any different.

    2 I guess the ‘GLBTI view’, or those with their own individual G-view, L-view B-view T-view and I-view need the same defence as other minorities that have been persecuted to death in times past. How about we call it the HGLBTI world view (has that been done before or did i just coin it?) And students of faith can be taught to hold a dignified silence on this matter out of concern for the physical welfare of their classmates.

    I’m trying to work out how question 3 would play out. Take an example of a child born male but has self-identified as female since they had any sense of self; can we claim to love that child, yet reject their very identity? For instance children who disapprove on the basis of their religion might only refer to that child as ‘he,him’ etc. And would it be loving to casually mention that the old testament regards them as an abomination and that they will burn in hell for all eternity?

    And 4 is a brilliant question, and i would rely heavily on advice from professionals who deal with these kids clinically, medically, psychologically with the best understanding. Not ad hoc web sites from the well intentioned and uninformed. (A sub-sub section of a link from a website does not undermine a groups entire merit)

    If this is a freedom to hold and profess religious views, and a free-speech type line of argument, then my response is always to support free and responsible speech. You can’t shout fire in a theatre, and you shouldn’t tell a child that they are, at their very core, wrong and incompatible with God’s love.

    I have written as earnestly and with as much understanding of the christian view as i can muster. And i respect the right to hold that view, but I abhor the damage done by the rejection dressed-up as love.

    Or maybe I’m wrong, can you show me how a Christian child may differ with the gay-ness of a gay boy or legitimacy and integrity of a trans girl, with love and do no damage?

    Sincerely, Anthony Taylor

    • Your comments are insightful. One point I’d like to make: Many of those with this agenda are vociferously against Christianity. I am a Christian. Unless you are also, it is impossible to understand how that intrinsically affects my whole person. It is who I am. Period. I could no more separate myself from Christ than a LGBT person can un-identify with who he or she is. However, I have felt very loved by people who do not share my relationship with Christ. I know, of course, that they don’t comprehend me completely, but I don’t experience that as hate. I am not narcissistic enough to believe that everyone must understand me or they are against me. I know that some will argue that religion and sexuality are different. I agree, but my point is about understanding people who are different from us. I can experience love from someone who does not share or even understand my faith. I would hope that a LGBT person can experience love from me, who does not share or even understand their sexual orientation.

      • I have noticed that on this issue there seems to be a divide between ‘Christians’ and ‘non-Christians’ too. All falling along the line of ‘Christians against safe schools’.

        I really think it depends on what people were exposed to as children as to whether they’re bigoted or not. As a Christian, who was lucky enough to be brought up by open-minded Christian Methodist parents who have friends of all sexualities and gender identifications, I was introduced to many different ways of being. I didn’t view one aspect as ‘sinful’ because I could see how wonderful and truely Chist like they behaved. I was exposed to lenient passages of the Bible and studied the Christian moderates.

        Some of their LGVTIQ friends were forced to leave their churches, friends and homes. They found a place of acceptance with us, where their marriage was respected and their families viewed as equals.

        Thankfully, being anti safe schools is not a sign of how Christian anyone is.

    • Hi Anthony. I really appreciated your contribution of a different perspective. Can I pipe in as a primary school teacher. (Also, a Christian, just to be up front.) Learning to lovingly disagree is a very difficult skill for most of us – children or adults. One which needs to be taught over and over, very explicitly. But in terms of how a child might receive that message, I am quite easily imagining a conversation where a child from a Christian family, bluntly, as children are often wont to do, states to a friend who has two lesbian parents, “God says kids should have a mum and a dad, not two mums” and then asks that child to come and play with him. Now sure, that may have raised all sorts of questions, and maybe some discomfort, for the child, which I would hope a teacher or parents would speak wisely into. It would be great if that child could go back to his friend and say, “I disagree”, or “My mums disagree.” But the important thing I think we’re all aiming for is that whatever disagreement there might be – and these are pretty profound issues of difference – i don’t want to downplay that at all – the children continue to enjoy each other’s company and include each other in their play. Inclusive play is the language of acceptance for children. We can most certainly create schools where no child is an outcast! We need to walk this out very carefully though, because the Safe Schools initiative seems likely to just turn the tables on who’s in and who’s out. That is not creating safe schools or safe communities for the future.

  11. I’m sure that if approached directly and respectfully they will be able to answer these questions to your satisfaction.
    We chose Christian schooling because we did not feel that our beliefs were adequately supported in the public system. The SSC programme has enriched the environment at our school, making LGBTIQ children feel welcome in the Christian community, without taking anything whatsoever away from the other children at the school.
    In our home we teach ur children to respect others regardless of their beliefs, so they would never have bullied or discriminated against LGBTIQ children or parents in any case, but it is good to see this message of love and acceptance growing throughout the whole school community.
    Despite what many parents originally feared, there is no pressure, no attempt at indoctrination, and no explicit content; it has all been age appropriate and discussed thoughtfully.
    Even the externally linked sites are much the same as the equivalent youth PD sites (yes, you might be surprised) for young heterosexual people.
    Might I suggest that you approach a local participating school and ask to either sit in, or have a session run specifically for parents and other members of the community?

    • Hi Jay,
      Just want to let you know that you might not be aware of the breadth of ‘interpretation’ that can go on when material such as this is presented to children. For example, my best friend works in a school and got to hear the school nurse tell a room full of 13-14 year old boys how “one advantage” of having anal sex with a girl is that she can’t fall pregnant. My friend is a social worker and was horrified. 14 year old boys encouraged to get their girlfriends to have anal sex? (by the way, what age would their girlfriends be?) – I’m at a loss to see how this is good.

      • Hi Christina,
        That sounds much like what we were taught many years ago at the Catholic boy’s school.
        The only difference now is that heterosexual’s aren’t the only people being providd with information that is relevant to them.
        Sex ed in schools has been quite specific for many years now.

  12. I’m generally supportive of the Safe Schools program but I appreciate that all programs should be evaluated and critiqued freely. I’ve been dismayed by the unfair and inflammatory language of the Australian Christian Lobby and so I was really pleased to read your measured tone and sensible questions.
    I think if the Safe Schools material could be improved it would be to make it more inviting of a multitude of value based opinions about sexuality – from those who think we should all be straight to those who think we all should be gay or bi, to those who think we should be chaste to those who think we should try new things. I don’t think the program tries to address those questions of sexual politics and ethics and I think they could be addressed in an engaging pluralist way where young people learn of what messages about sexuality exist in the world and in history. This is me, however, thinking like a humanities teacher and thus thinking of any class in sexuality as a potential history lesson.
    I do however think you make some wrong assumptions in your fourth question. You have hopefully read the article on breast-binding in full. It is not easily found on the website and is not directly linked to by Safer Schools (in fact this article has probably been read due to the campaign against Safer Schools far more than it would ever have been otherwise).It is very cautious and fits into the paradigm of harm-minimisation.
    Harm minimisation includes the provision of all sorts of information that is confronting but then it is information which is targeted specifically to people who have a high likelihood of engaging in a behaviour. This is why the article is as hard to find as it is (until it got all this promotion). I really think it blunts your other thoughtful questions to be failing to understand the point and place of this article, including its distance from the actual Safer Schools material.

  13. Please tell me this………If I introduced to my Children the practices of SSC at home, isn’t that a form of pedophilia or child abuse but SSC can do the same thing at School’s without interference from Police. Why are there double standards on this issue.

    • Hi Tony, I have had a similar but different concern. In NSW the age of consent is 16 years, yet the SSC program is directed to students in years 7-8 who are below this age. I cannot fathom how the government can allow a program in schools which encourages students to break the law. The irony is that there was uproar about a resource alleged to have been used in Anglican SRE in Sydney (but not in fact used) which made the case for celibacy (i.e. The novel idea that teenagers should actually comply with the law).

      The situation in Victoria where SSC originated is different (surprise, suprise) in that it is a defence if the younger party was aged 12 years or older and the offender was not more than 2 years older than the younger person, or they were married (though I would be surprised is SSC covered the nuances of the defence in their program).

        • The legal concerns have been well and truely investigated. The law is concerned with matters of exploitation and abuse, not education.

          Also, the law doesn’t have a moral position on sex. It acknowledges that sex is developmental – therefore it is normal for children to experiment sexually with their peers. That is why there is the age (maturity) caveat for sexual assault. Teenagers who engage in age appropriate sexual activity with their peers before the age of ‘consent’ (16) are still acting ‘within the law’. The law exists to protect minors from adults, not to protect minors from each other or to prevent normal development.

          Also, anti-discrimination law means that same-sex sex education be included in the school’s education.

    • I’m afraid you have been misinformed about either the program or the relevant legislation. This material is no more explicit than the sex ed material presented in schools for many years now; the only difference is that it now includes information relevant to LGBTIQ children and families.

    • Simple. They are the State and can do whatever the people with power and influence allow them to do. Unfortunately, our democaracy spreads voting power very thinly but activists and interest groups know how to ‘work the system’ to prilege their supporters at the expense of all taxpayers – again the money is raised (by force) from a broad base and then narrowly focussed on a select few. The Constitution was intended to limit the power of the Commonwealth to ‘enumerated powers’. However so called progressive jurists have changed the interpretation and effective operation of the Constitution so that Commonwealth power has been extended to areas far beyond those expressed by or allowed by popular ammendment.

    • Hi David!

      Thanks for your comment.

      To clarify: I meant that somebody else’s sexuality is personally important to *them*.

      Of course it’s not personally important to me (at least not in the same way!), anymore than my religion is important to somebody else.

      Hope that clears things up.

      Akos

    • I am certainly against all forms of bullying and yet to say there is no other agenda to the SSC doesn’t really hold water when you visit here and read that reducing heterosexism is one of the aims . http://www.genderqueer.org.au/safe-schools-coalition-victoria/
      What does that entail? Not being allowed to suggest any more than heterosexuality is the norm? Even when set against 1% who identify as trans and about 5% as gay? Students affected by gender dysphoria should be supported and their situation understood and their concerns be heard but then so should all students’ concerns.. One of the SSC recommendations was that libraries be culled of books that stereotype genders. Gender being a fluid thing is the accepted notion now and I have read on the SSC Victorian site in the past the information to students that they might at times ‘identify more as male and at other times as female’.
      I fear we may have a generation of children more confused than ever about sexuality. We are not doling them a service or a kindness.
      Yes, to being against bullying. Yes, to acceptance of differences. No, to the enforcement of a program that will marginalise other groups of students – the quiet conservative ones who will be called homophobic if they’re anxious about sharing change room facilities with opposite sex transgender kids, and who wonder why a gender neutral option isn’t provided.
      Addressing challenges in the school system for transgender and LGBTIQ students should simply have been part of one overall anti-bullying strategy – and why isn’t it? Because of people like Roz Ward with a more extreme agenda,

  14. Brilliant letter. Well considered and expressed. A couple of years ago my own children experienced backlash in their public high school when they politely inquired if it was ok to hold a differing views around gender and sexuality, to those being promoted in their sex ed classes. Am happy to share more about this….

    • Hi Christina,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I’d love to hear more about how your children were affected. Feel free to contact me via my contact page (top right of this page).

      God bless,

      Akos

  15. Good questions! Oh wait.

    #1) First of all, the wording of this is loaded as all hell. Secondly, no, it’s not possible to have a different view of LGBTI. This sounds close-minded, but the problem is that having a different view means that you run the risk of not recognising Transgender people or any of the other sexualities other than heterosexuality\homosexuality. Part of the problem is that a lot of the time, people with a different gender or sexuality are not recognised as being legitimate (“just a phase”) or they just aren’t recognised at all.

    Your assumption of “Recognition” being the same as “agreeing with” and “celebrating” is just blatantly ludicrous and it’s why the wording of this article in general is so poisonous. There is absolutely nobody trying to “convert you” to homosexuality or any other gender\sexual identity. Just because you’re not portraying something in a negative way, it doesn’t mean that you’re celebrating it either.

    So to your question, a question. Should LGBTI people NOT be recognised and should they be demonised for their identities? Is that what you’re suggesting?

    #2) Again, this question is so heavily loaded that it’s just blatant manipulation. The “Safe Schools view on LGBTI” is not a new perspective. Anybody who had experienced life outside of a church would realise this. See the above answer for why “acceptance” is not the same as “Agreeing with” or “Celebrating”. Once again: NOBODY IS TRYING TO CONVERT ANYBODY TO HOMOSEXUALITY! Safe Schools is not a church.

    #3) Do students have a right to express their views on gender and sexuality? Of course they do! However, students have the right to express racist and bigoted views as well. Just be aware that (like in proper society), when you express an opinion which is abusive or discriminatory against somebody, there are going to be consequences for these actions. Discrimination based on identity is wrong, regardless of what facet you’re focusing on.

    #4) Awesome question! That’s something that the course helps teach. I love how you mention chest bending because the book mentions chest binding. I bet the person who wrote this had never heard about it. Their shock and outrage over the practice being unhealthy, was information that they probably learned FROM THE CLASS MATERIAL ITSELF. So yes, the class material does teach that practices such as chest binding are harmful. It is therefore NOT recommending it. How can something that says: “It has the potential to be lethal” be regarded as a recommendation?!

    • Hi Wiggs,

      Appreciate the time it took you to make the comment.

      Unfortunately you seem to have misunderstood much of what I’ve written.

      Please read it again carefully, and come back to me with any questions.

      Sincerely,

      Akos Balogh

  16. I guess another way of putting it is in the inverse, Akos. Let’s say you are a married heterosexual and I belong to a religion that says that your life-style is against the law of God. I maintain this – that your actions and those of your wife are sinful – and teach the same to my children. I say that you have “chosen” your heterosexuality, because my sacred text says so, and that, in your choice, you have moved away from God. I go on blogs and protest your way of life. I send petitions to my friends urging them to write to their MPs opposing straight-marriage and your “life-style”. My school hands out a booklet warning of the dangers of the way you live and how you are undermining the fabric of society. I then invite you into my home because I “love and support” you nothingwithstanding that I cannot abide your views on gender and sexuality. Would you want to come?

    • Hi Brenda!

      Thanks for chiming in! 🙂

      You raise some important points, which need some unpacking.

      So apologies in advance for such a long answer!!!

      1) You raise some important points, but what it seems to come down to is this:

      ‘Can we disagree about our personal ethics/worldview/practices, and still be friends?’

      If you look at Jesus’ example, you’ll see that he does something very remarkable: he hangs out with the ‘outcasts’ from the conservative, religious, 1st century Jewish society – i.e. woman living outside marriage (John 4, Luke 7), hated collaborators of the occupying pagan Roman government, i.e. tax collectors (Matthew 9:10-13) – he loved them.

      In fact, the core teaching of the gospel is that Jesus loved us God-less people so much, he gave his life on the Roman cross, to rescue us, by taking God’s punishment for our rebellion against Him.

      Perfect love, and yet perfectly upholding God’s requirement: Jesus never compromised on either.

      Christians have been pretty hopeless on the love side of things (speaking of myself in particular!!), and yet too easy on the upholding God’s requirements.

      And so Jesus demonstrates through his actions that you can love someone, and yet disagree with them profoundly.

      But we all know this to be true.

      Can an Atheist genuinely be caring for me, and yet think that religion (including mine) is the source of all evil, and that the sooner we get rid of it, the better?

      Speaking as a Christian, I have no problems with a person like that, and I have Atheist friends who think as much, and are still my friends.

      2) ‘I say that you have “chosen” your heterosexuality, because my sacred text says so,’

      Which particular text are you talking about?

      3) ‘I go on blogs and protest your way of life.’

      I have written about Christian attitudes toward gay people, here:

      http://akosbalogh.com/2015/03/20/do-we-love-gay-people/

      4) ‘I send petitions to my friends urging them to write to their MPs opposing straight-marriage…’

      I oppose any redefinition of marriage because it has a very important purpose, which any redefinition will severely compromise.

      It’s purpose is to provide a place for the conception, nurture, and care of children by both a mother AND a father. Redefining it will change that important, public, purpose.

      That’s the issue.

      http://akosbalogh.com/2015/08/15/when-tony-jones-asked-the-bigot/

      http://akosbalogh.com/2015/09/02/are-you-over-the-same-sex-marriage-debate-heres-why-you-should-still-care/

      5) ‘…and your “life-style”.’

      What do you mean?

      As per my article on this post, I’m concerned that students (and teachers) will be *pressured* to accept a particular view of sexuality: it’s the *pressure*, the (not so subtle?) *coercion*, that’s the issue.

      I’d say EXACTLY the same thing if it was a Christian group coming in, and demanding that people think highly of Jesus Christ (i.e. my Lord and Saviour, who I would lay down my life for).

      Coercion, whether it be political, or religious, is wrong.

      End of story. 🙂

      6) ‘My school hands out a booklet warning of the dangers of the way you live and how you are undermining the fabric of society.’

      Which school is doing that?

      7) ‘I then invite you into my home because I “love and support” you nothingwithstanding that I cannot abide your views on gender and sexuality.’

      Can you abide *my* views on gender and sexuality? (I.e. that sex is designed by God for marriage?)

      Would I be welcome in your house? 🙂

      As a Christian, I believe that all people have rebelled against God’s rightful rule (whether they be gay or straight, black or what – everyone – *including me*).

      And yet, because of His love for us, God didn’t just leave us to die and be punished for our rebellion (Hebrews 9:27), but sent Jesus into the world, to reconcile us to Himself.

      Thus I love all people (I want to see all people reconciled to God), but I can’t in good conscience *celebrate* or *affirm* *behaviour* or *desires* that I see as being against God’s good and perfect will (whether those desires/behaviour be my own selfishness, my own lust for woman other than my wife, or somebody else’s sleeping with a person not their spouse).

      As I have said, I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, and thinking I am believing in a dangerous delusion.

      I will gladly love them, care for them, and share my life with them.

      Because that’s what Jesus did…

      Again, please come back at that if anything is unclear (although I’d prefer you reading through my comments carefully before responding).

      • Akos, the “you” of my example was not meant to indicate you personally. It was a hypothetical characterisation of the sort of Christian who is vocally anti-gay- … everything … really. The booklet that I was referring to is, “Don’t mess with Marriage”. Again, I did not mean that you distributed it, just that it was circulated in schools in the name of Christ.

        • Hi Brenda,

          Which bit of ‘Don’t mess with marriage’ booklet do you find ‘warns of the dangers of the way [LGBTIQ people] live and how [LGBTIQ people] are undermining the fabric of society.’?

          • Bahaha! The title!

            It implies that allowing LGBTIQ couples to marry will somehow ‘mess with marriage’.

            Even hetero couples get divorced, or single women raise their kids without fathers due to divorce or death. Some fathers abandon their kids or abuse their kids.

            In many small ways, many heteronormative families fall short of the LGBTIQ parents that I know!

            Marriage wasn’t even celebrated in churches until around the ninth century, because the church considered it a ‘civil order’, not a ‘rite of the church’. So why do some churches believe marriage is actually an event that they can comment on?

            .

    • Hi Brenda. Your piece raises a really important issue. We haven’t stood in each other’s shoes.

      I write as a Christian. And no, I don’t know how it feels to have a whole block of society rail against my sexuality. Neither do you know how it feels to be increasingly treated like your views are backward and bigoted, when one of you greatest aims in life is to love people as God has loved you.

      And for all of us there is the added complication of being lumped into a group with whom we share some, but perhaps not all, of its opinions, and agree with some, but not all of its methods of getting their point across.

      And then there’s the politicisation of the issues. I am passionately anti-CSG. It is fine for me to paint mining companies as greedy, heartless monsters who care nothing about the future of the planet. It is fine for them to paint me as a fringe-dwelling greenie who cares nothing about jobs for ordinary Australians. This kind of emotive language (and attitude) is a normal part of the political process, and we all want to try to convince as many people as possibly that our view is right, so that we can influence decision making in Australia. None of us are hurt by these assertions. But when we make issues surrounding sexuality political – and don’t get me wrong – we have to make them political because politics is just decision making about people, and sexuality is intrinsic to who we are as people – suddenly the emotive language we use in the political sphere is taken deeply personally. How can it not be? I wonder if you can also see that the techniques used by the LGBT lobby also deeply affect those of conservative religious conviction.

      I am sure that the material in Safe Schools could be used well in the hands of teachers who genuinely respect every child’s background and opinion. However, the tide is turning culturally. Many teachers will lean toward what’s now considered more “progressive” thinking, and against “traditional” views – students also. I think the Safe Schools idea is a good one – we need excellent resources to help schools to work towards creating a culture of acceptance of diversity. I just don’t think the Safe Schools package we’ve got is it. I think it should be taken back to the drawing board and reworked with a greater diversity of people in its design team. And if we think such a team could never work together, we might as well give up our dream of creating safe schools.

  17. Akos, a well written extremely polite letter indeed.

    This forced, positive mention and celebration of sexual diversity/orientation in the presence of easily influenced and innocent minors through the SSC program is abhorrent and shocking. It is basically sexual grooming and pradatory in nature. I am tolerant of all gender diverse people and want indivual children who are confused about their sexuality to have trained councillors and family support to help them deal with their personal situation, but I do not want other children to be subjected to this bias and politically motivated program which promotes and supports cross dressing, homosexual acts, transgender mutilation or transition of minors in primary school.

    Parents must have a choice in the implementation of this program at their child’s school. My children do not deserve to be manipulated by the SSC bullies forcing their beliefs onto others without proper consultation or permission from legal guardians.

    This program will definitely cause more harm then good. Leave our children alone!

    • I agree, James. I would like to see school counsellors well trained in matters of sexuality counselling. I want no child to be feeling tortured and confused about their sexuality. The material in Safe Schools comes out of a wealth of thinking in this area. However, my concern is that exposing all children to this material, rather than just the kids who are confused, will create more confusion for more children.

  18. Why are you lying about what minus 18 says to transgender teens? Your selective quote is extremely manipulative. Where you’ve put in an ellipsis you leave out crucial information – which is that minus 18 provides information on chest binding specifically to make sure any trans teens who choose to bind do so safely. Or do you oppose giving teens helpful information?

  19. Well articulated, Akos – thank you!

    One of our kids ( year 10 in a public school) was in a form level group last week where they were asked to indicate their agreement or disagreement with same sex marriage. They had to physically move to the positive or negative side of the room.

    I was furious when I heard this!

    10 years ago, when things were still really tough socially for LGTBs, schools would never have done an activity like this because it would make the minority feel isolated or ‘bullied’. Which I totally agree with. Now, in 2016, an activity like this will still cause the same angst for the minority. Yet it seems that now it is not only permissible but encouraged!

    Needless to say, I have an appointment with the principal…

    • Hi Jenni,

      That is most distressing. It makes me wonder how any school could do such a ‘choose which side you’re on’ activity, especially with such a topic.

      Thanks for contributing, and I would be interested in how the meeting with the Principal goes…

    • Regarding that specific example – I think it can be a good thing – provided kids are given a chance to say why they took a particular stance (I was).

      • Thanks for your comment Mitch!

        I know you’re a very resilient young bloke, and I’m glad you felt brave enough to stand up for what you believe. Did you get any blowback from anyone?

  20. I have looked into this ‘system’ or programme, and it is absolutely harmful. It should be withdrawn from use immediately, before any more harm is done to current school children. I don’t know who wrote this “Safe Schools” programme, or who allowed it to be used in Public schools, but anyone concerned with it’s release, should be fired immediately. The subjects it covers should be taught to children at home, with their parents, but without the completely stupid aspects. Who would CHOOSE to tell their children “it doesn’t matter which toilet you use, just use any” or “we don’t care what you wear”.
    Every aspect of this infiltration by stealth and bullying, is harmful and it must be removed from circulation and destroyed.

    • Honestly? Toilets have some kind of gender now? Germs? What is it exactly about a toilet from the opposite gender that has your knickers in a knot?

      As a female I have used male toilets in all sorts of places when the female toilet is broken, or the line is too long. Being culturally sensitive, I ask my husband to check nobody is in there first. I take my sons to the women’s toilets in the shopping mall when I’m by myself. Blow it. They’re just a toilet, get over it!

      Notice I used the words ‘culturally sensitive’? Gender based toilets are a cultural phenomenon, not a sexual one.

  21. Having been a teacher for over 3 decades in both public and independent schools I am all for any initiative that promotes tolerance, compassion and well being in my students. It is part of my professional duty of care. As a Christian I also carry the extra responsibility of a faith that answers to God concerning these things. Unfortunately I believe that the Safe Schools Coalition have gone beyond the mandate that their name suggests of providing safety for all students and into the realm of indoctrination. Truly safe schools provide education, safe social interaction and a caring environment for personal development. They have no mandate from parents or society in general to actively promote, on a school wide basis, a diversity of sexuality to students. All schools in Australia are required to provide basic sex education as part of the mandatory PDHPE syllabus. Anything beyond this is, and should remain, the responsibility of parents or carers.

    • Thanks for your professional insight Steve.

      I think you nicely summarise the concern of many educators and parents.

      God bless,

      Akos

  22. All the safe Schools coalition will be doing is opening children and parents up for another kind of bullying – the bullying and name calling of those who hold a view that goes against what the LGBTI lobbyists wish to teach the children. The push is to make life easier for what is stated as ‘Thousands of students’, however there are many millions of students that attend Australian schools – what about those other millions of students and their families, why are their views and beliefs being ridiculed and abused.

  23. I initially believed the accusations of homophobia made against those who are opposing the campaign – after all – who could possibly be opposed to inclusivity other than bigots??

    Then I read the material. I now find it hard to disagree with the accusation that it’s in fact pushing an agenda, and is trying to undermine basic ideas like male and female.

    E.g. “asking new parents whether their baby is a boy or a girl..reinforces heteronormativity…Reducing heteronormativity…can have good outcomes for everyone”

    That goes a lot further than making school safe for everyone…

  24. Hi Akos,

    Whilst my main point of contention with this is that the LGBT ‘worldview’ is not opinion (it is a FACT that homosexuality is as normal and natural as heterosexuality) that is a debate that I think we can get into another day.

    Firstly, I wonder if you are familiar with what ‘breast-binding’ (chest-binding would be the better term to use) actually is. It is certainly not a ‘procedure’. In addition, Minus18 does not ADVOCATE for binding and it certainly doesn’t advocate binding for females but rather for trans-males. It is true that Minus18 provide safety information and guidance for transmales seeking to reduce gender dysphoria (which, in itself, can be life threatening as I will discuss later). Advice isn’t advocacy. If you advised your gay son to wear a condom when engaging in sex would you be recommending that he have sex? The article that you linked, as evidence, is called ‘Healthier and Safer Ways to Bind Your Chest’ not ‘Bind your chest!!! it’s great fun!!!’.

    It is true that binding (due to restriction of breathing) can be dangerous, however it can also be perfectly comfortable and healthy. Just as many women can comfortably wearing a sports bra, binders apply the same (sometimes even less) pressure to the chest. Any retail binder (i.e. not a home-job) will be safe and relatively comfortable (the same can be said for bras).

    This brings me to my last point. Minus18 provide this information because of the crippling effect of dysphoria. Gender dysphoria can lead people to the action of binding via dangerous methods (e.g. rigid masking tape), causing pain and possible breathing restriction leading to collapse. It doesn’t help to suggest that these young people should be raised in a school environment that refuses to tell them they are normal and that what they are feeling is valid. You speak of your interest in ending bullying but if you never hear of anyone feeling the way you feel, it doesn’t take a bully to tell yourself you’re different and ‘wrong’. 50% of trans people will attempt suicide at some point in their lives (and this is only of those that report and those that don’t die in the attempt where no one in their family will acknowledge the victims transidentity to aid stats). Personally, I would prefer my children learn about the validity of different gender identities than that they kill themselves or even think of suicide for a second.

    You talk with concern about the risks of binding, but what about the risks of invalidating identity? Here is a report from beyondblue that shows the effects of homophobia: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/bw0258-lgbti-mental-health-and-suicide-2013-2nd-edition.pdf?sfvrsn=2

    Here’s a quote from the report evidencing the importance of supporting our young people: “Knowing what was facing me religion-wise and with my family I was pretty suicidal between the ages of about 16 and 19 … Not so much because of people’s homophobia but because of feeling totally trapped between a religion/family that didn’t accept homosexuality and being who I was”

    Please do respond or at least edit this article so that it reflects the truth of Minus18’s important work. You know me in real life and I’d be happy to hear from you in person or online.

    • Hi Alex!

      So lovely to hear from you. I hope you’re well.

      Thankyou for taking the time to write your thoughts and concerns. I’ll try and address each of these in turn.

      1) ‘Whilst my main point of contention with this is that the LGBT ‘worldview’ is not opinion (it is a FACT that homosexuality is as normal and natural as heterosexuality) that is a debate that I think we can get into another day.’

      Nobody is doubting that many people are homosexual (whether by nature/nurture/combination of both).

      Just like nobody doubts that many married men (including yours truly) sometimes have desires for women other than our wives.

      The question is this: is such a desire good?

      My point about the Safe Schools worldview (I should change it from ‘LGBTI worldview – from what I’ve been told, it’s not monolithic!) is that it makes the following move:

      a) Homosexuality exists.

      b) Homosexuality is good.

      Conclusion: therefore, we should affirm homosexuality.

      See what they’ve done in (b)? They’ve inserted a *moral view*, namely that ‘homosexuality is good’, and it’s not scientifically provable…because science, by definition, can’t make moral judgements.

      That’s why I’m concerned that Safe Schools goes too far, and pushes a particular view, that is not for public schools to push (i.e. families and students need to make up their own minds about this).

      2) ‘Advice isn’t advocacy. If you advised your gay son to wear a condom when engaging in sex would you be recommending that he have sex? The article that you linked, as evidence, is called ‘Healthier and Safer Ways to Bind Your Chest’ not ‘Bind your chest!!! it’s great fun!!!’.’

      This material is being introduced into lower highschools, and primary schools.

      Now I don’t know what you were like as an 11 year old, but at age 11, if my teacher/authority figure told me how to do something, implicit in that was the understanding that ‘this is a good thing to do’.

      That’s my concern with this message: young kids will see it, as it is a partner site with Safe Schools, and immediately assume it’s good and right. They’re not adults, Alex. They can’t discriminate between ‘we’re just giving advice, not advocating for it’.

      And who can blame them? There’s no warning there at the top of ‘first speak to a teacher/school counsellor/kids helpline/headspace counsellor’ before you undertake this procedure.

      3) ‘This brings me to my last point. Minus18 provide this information because of the crippling effect of dysphoria. Gender dysphoria can lead people to the action of binding via dangerous methods (e.g. rigid masking tape), causing pain and possible breathing restriction leading to collapse. ‘

      And I’m very saddened to hear that – and in another article, I interviewed a professional Sexologist about this:

      http://akosbalogh.com/2016/02/24/interview-with-a-sexologist/

      4) ‘It doesn’t help to suggest that these young people should be raised in a school environment that refuses to tell them they are normal and that what they are feeling is valid. You speak of your interest in ending bullying but if you never hear of anyone feeling the way you feel, it doesn’t take a bully to tell yourself you’re different and ‘wrong’.

      I could not imagine how difficult it must be to have gender dysphoria.

      But I think you’re offering me a false dichotomy.

      Either:

      a) Approve a website that gives advice about the potentially lethal practice of chest binding.

      OR

      b) Have a school environment where kids experiencing gender dysphoria are bullied and not supported.

      Neither of these options are acceptable, nor must we settle for one or the other.

      Here’s a third:

      c) Have professional help on hand in schools (and out of schools) for kids experiencing gender dysphoria.

      More to the point, with professional school counsellors, headspace clinics, and kids helpline all being available to children (and who can refer kids on to further services as required), why would you need a website giving DIY on a potentially harmful practice, *with no warning on the webpage about first seeking professional help before undertaking chest binding*?

      4) Furthermore, please have a read of the interview I did with Patricia, the profesional Sexologist:

      http://akosbalogh.com/2016/02/24/interview-with-a-sexologist/

      When it comes to young kids and pre-adolescents who have gender dysphoria (i.e. the ones who the chest binding site applies to), the research concludes that only 18% continue past adolescence with their gender dysphoria: the rest growing out of it.

      Could you imagine a 12 year old girl, feeling gender dysphoria, seeing the minus18 website, and taking action (‘it must be ok – it’s minus18 – they’re promoted by Safe Schools’), and then a year down the track, moving past the gender dysphoria…by which time, the damage to her body is done.

      5) ‘You talk with concern about the risks of binding, but what about the risks of invalidating identity?’

      I don’t doubt that’s a problem, which is Patricia (Sexologist) recommends the ‘wait and see’ approach, rather than labelling. But bullying and hatred are completely unacceptable, certainly from a Christian worldview.

      6) ‘Please do respond or at least edit this article so that it reflects the truth of Minus18’s important work. ‘

      As requested. But for the reasons outlined above, I can’t edit this article.

  25. Akos thank you so much for your common sense rational questions. I hope you are treated with the same dignity and respect in the reply, but somehow I doubt it

  26. On the SBS news (Friday) they gave a biased report claiming 32 schools had signed up and one withdrawn since the review started. With SBS clearly pushing an executive directive, and the ABC supporting by default, getting healthy education to our children is being systematically stacked to an agenda, destroying culture as it goes. The SBS report was biased because they claimed those pushing for the review felt it was Marxcist! They totally failed to air normal parent’s ligitimate concerns about their children being forced to undermine their hetrosexual sexual identity is such a confronting way, that promotes surgical intervetion. Have our politicians gone mad in an election frenzy to the bottom, funded out of hard working Australian taxes?

  27. Good stuff! The horrific role playing (via 8 character cards) in Building Respectful Relationships is a prime example of your concerns and what should be all parents concerns. Fancy encouraging 12 year olds to role play a 17 year old girl/young woman who has had 15 sexual partners and rarely uses contraception because she is usually drunk. What is that? Who authorised this material? The sexual rights movement and it’s suppression of parental rights in schools will grow and grow and grow unless sane people, especially parents, keep it in check. After all government schools via principals and teachers act “in loco parentis” – in the place of parents. Parental rights, recognised by the UN and Australian law, states that parents have the right to oversee their children’s education. So… while rioting in the streets is warranted given what insane people are doing to children in schools it would be better for parents to band together and sit down with principals to discuss what is going on. Parents are well within their rights to do so. Parents the time for hoping someone else will end the madness is long gone. You must do it yourselves.

    • Hi William!

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, queer theory is very much being pushed via various schooling systems, and yes, it’s time for parents to get more involved in their schools. Well said!

  28. Any teacher who uses the Safe Schools material should be refused teacher registration as being of unfit moral character. Fashion and buzz words such as equality, tolerance, acceptance, inclusiveness are used to side step an examination of moral wrongs and rights, or inclinations which if acted out are morally wrong. Inclinations have their origins in human nature which are formed by nature and nurture. Gender is determined by chromosomes and identity is determined by reality. Sexual behavior is subordinate to form and function not attraction.

  29. There is as much room for you to disagree on sexuality as there is to disagree on whether women should have the vote. When heterosexuals and cis people have been subjected to potentially being sent to prison for their relationships, beaten, shot at, denied services in the name of religious freedom, denied healthcare, had lies told about them conflating them with child sex offenders ect then perhaps you would get an answer to your question.

    • Since when has society become so degraded to the point that acceptance of LGBT people rage to have the concept of sexual equality normalised? Don’t answer that. Since the Labor government came into power. No, I’m not overexaggerating, if anything, understating. Under the guise of anti-bullying, which I have nothing against, Safe Schools have persuaded almost everyone to accept LGBT. My first point, what do the two have in common or what connection is there? Apart from the fact that all concept of gay, lesbian, bi, and trans are garbage, they poison our minds, clouding the truth. Safe Schools are nowhere near safe.