School children bullied for their race, weight or appearance will now receive support previously limited to LGBT pupils, an Australian state has announced.
New South Wales (NSW) made the announcement as federal funding is set to be removed for a controversial LGBT-focused ‘anti-bullying’ initiative.
The “Safe Schools” programme included support for gender fluidity, featured graphic descriptions about gay sex and claimed “virginity is whatever you think it is”.
NSW’s Education Minister Rob Stokes said all bullying was unacceptable.
“Bullying will never be tolerated in NSW public schools – whether it be because someone is overweight, gay, based on the colour of their skin or for any other reason.
“Students who are struggling in our schools, for whatever reason, need support and will continue to receive it in NSW public schools”, he added.
The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) said the action was a victory for parents, but cautioned that work was still necessary before other states replaced the Safe Schools’ ideology.
Tasmania has dropped the contentious programme, but there are concerns that the same ideology will continue under a different name.
Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory are already running state-funded versions of the Safe Schools programme.
Support not endorsement
Lyle Shelton, Managing Director of the ACL, said: “Those of you who have prayed, given money, letterboxed, written to politicians and shared posts on social media should take great courage from this.”
He added: “Children struggling with issues of gender or sexual identity should be rendered every support.
“But this should never mean teaching children that their gender is a social construct and that it is up to them to decide if they are a boy or a girl.”
In March last year, the Australian Government called for some curbs on the programme including that:
– Parental consent is given before students participate in lessons.
– A lesson where 12-14-year-old students imagine they are attracted to the same sex is amended.
The group behind Safe Schools said it would seek to train more teachers in its programme before federal funding runs out at the end of June.
Roz Ward, one of its founders, has said: “LGBTI oppression and heteronormativity are woven into the fabric of capitalism”.
Speaking at a Marxist conference, she added: “It will only be through a revitalised class struggle and revolutionary change that we can hope for the liberation of LGBTI people”.