Opponents of the “Safe Schools Coalition” are trying to “drag us back to the dark ages”, writes a Fairfax lady journalist angered by the Prime Minister’s “caving in” to his “religious right” and ordering an investigation into what this self-defined “national coalition of organisations and schools working together to create safe and inclusive school environments” does with the $80 million of taxpayers’ money it has so far pocketed. The dark ages, really? With robber barons, plagues and no decent dentistry? Learning kept alive in monasteries (Fairfax wouldn’t like that)? Nothing to see by but candles and rush lights—a continuous Earth Hour, you might say, though rather more burdensome than that annual exercise in vanity asceticism of which Fairfax is a co-sponsor.
It is no doubt true that “safe and inclusive school environments” were not much in evidence in the Dark Ages. Apparently it is only with the advent of the Safe Schools Coalition that they have begun to appear at all and there is a long way to go, according to the “ground-breaking” and “innovative” Safe Schools “resource” All of Us—the All being made up of what it speaks of as “LGBTI people” together with what I suppose we can call NLGBTI people, the non-LGBTI rest of the community whose insensitive language and actions are such a nuisance to the former. You get the impression, though the canons of “inclusivity” would not permit them to say it, that the authors of All of Us would be happier if the NLGBTIs didn’t insist on existing. That would at least have spared the distress of the 75 per cent of LGBTI young people claimed by All of Us to have been subjected to “physical or verbal homophobic bullying”, most of it at school.
Does this statistic correspond to the experience of anyone who has recently left school? If so it suggests that the inveighing against “homophobia” which for several years has been a mandatory part of the curriculum has been a total washout. It might even have been counterproductive if the climate of playground and classroom terror described in the Fairfax article really exists. Here, among the “real life school experiences” “shared” with the writer, we read of the twelve-year-old (boy, one assumes) who saw his name “scrawled across a school toilet door next to the word ‘faggot’” (Tom Brown would have scorned even to notice). Another child was “beaten up and spat on by a gang of classmates” for being a “tranny”. Very sad but why? “Transphobia” or because he or she was an insufferable little show-off who paraded his or her supposed “diversity” around the school like Goody Two-Shoes? And what does it mean to be “kicked out of your football team” because you aren’t “masculine” enough? That you want to play in a tutu or that you’re not much good at football?
Children can be very intolerant, but the finger-wagging adults who are turning the lucky country into a grievance incubator are just as adept at calling people names. Politicians and others who dare to ask whether the Safe Schools Coalition isn’t part of a “political ideology” to “promote queer sexuality” are “zealots”, in the words of the headline to the article quoted above. Their “relentless and vicious attacks” on this organisation are “abhorrent”. Yet what is truly depressing is that, when mankind is capable of an infinite variety of achievement, a substantial minority of citizens would seem to live such arid lives that all they can think of to claim attention to themselves is their sexuality. Is it for that that we remember Michelangelo or Tchaikovsky?
By contrast to the zealots, Safe Schools campaigners are humane and altruistic—though it is unlikely that these virtues blind them to the benefits to their own careers of showering schools (nearly 500 so far) with LGBTI propaganda. The more they persuade teachers to bang on about intersex and transitioning, the greater the harvest in converts and the more the demand for their services. Children are naturally inquisitive, and by having Safe Schools open before them the whole sample case of sexualities (or the currently approved ones anyway; early inclinations to paedophilia are unlikely to be endorsed), who knows how many will suddenly discover that, yes, that one fits me? If that discovery transforms what might have been a passing phase into a lifelong obsession, that’s all the more clout for the LGBTI lobby as the child moves to adulthood.
Kevin Donnelly: Penis-Tucking 101
And yet Safe Schools has as its kernel a perfectly reasonable proposition. People should not be made fun of for their perceived “differences”. Everyone, adults and children, should be treated with respect and courtesy. You would hope that in an enlightened society the protection of the vulnerable and victimised would be as natural as breathing and that schools would inculcate it as a civic duty without prompting from quangoes. But as with everywhere these days where the Left feels it can advance its agenda, ideologues have wormed their way in like codling moth in an apple and under the harmless-sounding banner of the Safe Schools movement have pressed this civilised and civilising obligation into service as an instrument for their own ends—in this case their war on “heteronormativity” (to use the cumbersome term invented in the 1990s by a “queer theory” pioneer with a tin ear). Children at school are being made the cannon fodder of adult sexual politics.
To help teachers instruct their classes in the kind of thing children should be taught not to do or say, All of Us gives several somewhat forced examples of heteronormativity in action. One is the supposed inconsiderate habit of the heteronormative of “asking new parents whether their baby is a boy or a girl”. What is so offensive about that? It has to be one or the other (unless an H needs to be added to that string of initials). Even same-sex activists recognise that there are both “Ls” and “Gs” in the world. Would it be more acceptable to ask whether the newborn infant is showing any precocious signs of being LGBTI, and if so, which initial? Another allegedly heteronormative practice deplored by All of Us is that of “always asking boys if they have a girlfriend rather than a girlfriend or a boyfriend”. What planet are these people on? Ask a strong adolescent boy if he has a boyfriend? Teachers have been punched for less.
Here it might be noted in passing that one not inconsiderable section of the community for whom Safe Schools is not remotely interested in making schools safe is that which believes, for whatever reasons, that teaching children that same-sex-and-all-the-rest-of-it relationships are just the same as heterosexual ones is not what we ought to be doing.
Activists who consider themselves social justice campaigners might pause to consider how much justice there is in the fact that a piece of same-sex propaganda such as All of Us (with its statutory urgings to gay “marriage”) is produced with the involuntary assistance of taxpayers, whereas not a cent of government aid has gone towards a pamphlet such as the Catholic bishops’ Don’t Mess with Marriage, which defends the law of the land. The latter is even the subject of a complaint to that distinguished example of value for your tax dollar, the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission. The complainant, a Greens parliamentary candidate called Martine (formerly Martin) Delaney, finds the bishops’ publication “offensive, humiliating and insulting”. She should go the whole hog and denounce the Commonwealth itself for the offensive, humiliating and insulting definition of marriage that federal parliament inserted into the Marriage Act in 2004: “Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
The evil of “heteronormativity” is unmasked in All of Us, in a way that tells you everything you need to know about the Safe Schools Coalition’s opinion of what used to be conventional attitudes to sex. Heteronormativity is described as “a belief system that reinforces [sic] that same-sex attracted, intersex and gender-diverse people are somehow less normal than everyone else”. But aren’t they? Surely it isn’t “judgmental” or “hate speech” to say so but a statistical and observable fact. We may shrink from stating it bluntly, but normal is what is the norm. It is normal for males to be attracted to females and vice versa because that is how at least 95 per cent of people are and that is the means by which the species propagates itself. It is not wrong to be attracted to one’s own sex but it is a departure from the norm.
Pretending otherwise is a key strategy of gender warriors, who want us to see traditional “binary” sexual identification as a straitjacket forced on society by—well, by whom? Presumably the non-LGBTI majority, whose young now have to be taught—through the schools and irrespective of what their parents might think—the semantic contradiction that minority sexual preferences, or whatever preferences individuals may choose for themselves, or wish to “transition” to, are just as normal as the statistically normal. This is quite a different goal from the decency, respect and tolerance Safe Schools masquerades as striving for. You can’t help suspecting that the “zealots” are right and that the purpose of such teaching is leftist-led social revolution through the de-normalising of one of the underpinnings of Western civilisation, the traditional family, and its relegation, if it must exist at all, to one “lifestyle choice” among many. Safe Schools has all the hallmarks of a Trojan horse, in which case its promoters, however well intentioned, are the Left’s useful idiots.
Those who stand up against them are not dragging us back into a dark age. They are trying to drag us back from the brink of one in which social cohesion will collapse in a welter of conflicting and loudly vindicated “rights”. Who will fill the power vacuum if our civilisation implodes? I can think of one possible contender, and if the LGBTI world thinks it’s badly done by now, just wait.
Christopher Akehurst is a periodic contributor to Quadrant, Spectator Australia and Kairos, and editor of Organ Australia.