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March 06th 2016 print

Kevin Donnelly

Safe Schools’ Rainbow Is Mostly Red

Sex education in our schools once consisted of clinical explanations of the mechanical. These days, as the Safe Schools scandal has demonstrated, lessons in what fits where are apt to be immersion courses in the discriminatory nature of oppressive capitalism

rainbow edThe Commonwealth government’s Safe Schools Coalition program, directed at providing a more positive environment for “same-sex attracted, intersex and gender-diverse students” is being criticised for advocating radical views about gender and sexuality. Senator Cory Bernardi, from South Australia, describes the program as indoctrinating “children into a Marxist agenda of cultural relativism”. Senator Eric Abetz, from Tasmania, argues that it is “a program of social engineering where parents, when they get to understand what it is, rebel against it and in fact vote for their schools not to be involved”.

While there is no doubt that elements of the program involve a genuine attempt to reduce bullying and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) students, Senators’ Abetz and Bernardi are correct in what they argue. The ideology underpinning the program and associated material reflects a cultural-left bias about gender and sexuality that has existed for many years.  As I detailed in Why Our Schools Are Failing, published in 2004, the cultural left has long critiques Western capitalist society as ‘phallocentric’, ‘oppressive’ and ‘misogynist’. A rainbow alliance of cultural-left movements, including neo-Marxism, feminism, gender studies and queer theory argue that traditional views about sexuality and gender enforce a binary, hierarchical code that oppresses women and anyone who does not conform to society’s heterosexist expectations.

Examples quoted in Why Our Schools Are Failing include the University of Melbourne’s History Department’s course ‘The Body: History, Sex and Gender’, where students are introduced to “an understanding of the different readings of the body… of the construction of the slender body, the gay and lesbian body, and the gendered body of the late 20th century”. At a national conference of English teachers an academic, when referring to heterosexuality, argued: “I am proposing that this new form of hierarchical dualism can and should be resisted and challenged (by) using the English classroom as a site for resistance and interventionist strategies.”

Central to LGBTQI ideology is the belief that heterosexuality is patriarchal and bourgeois and, further, that men and boys have dominated for so long because of what the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci called hegemony. Gramsci argues that unequal power relations within society occur because they appear natural and beyond dispute.  Instead of gender being biologically determined it is a social construct and, as a result, students can be taught to act differently. Drawing on the theories of the French Marxist Louis Althusser, the cultural-left also argues that schools are parts of the capitalist system’s “ideological state apparatus” and they must be critiqued and challenged if the socialist utopia is ever to arise.

As a result, the 2004 South Australian school curriculum asserted “gender is a social construction organised upon unequal power relations which define and limit opportunities for girls and boys… The current construction of the gender order also supports heterosexuality as the norm. Social constructions of advantage and disadvantage are of human making and therefore capable of change.”

Given the history of gender and sexuality theory it should not surprise that the Safe Schools do Better booklet warns against heterosexism on the basis that it unfairly limits “ideas about what is ‘normal’ and ‘not normal’”.  Reflecting Gramsci and Althusser, the statement is also made that homophobia “includes institutional and cultural bias and structural inequality.” Not surprisingly, the Safe Schools Gender Questioning booklet adopts a relativistic position when telling students, “There are many genders beyond just ‘male’ and ‘female’: gender can be fluid and limitless”.  The latter booklet goes on to advise students there “are no limitations on what your gender and identity can be.”

While the Safe Schools Coalition argues that approximately 16% of students are LGBTQI it also must be accepted that while students, especially during puberty, might be uncertain about their sexuality and gender, by the time they enter the adult world they will be more comfortable with who and what they are. Based on what is described as the “largest, most comprehensive population-based survey of sexuality ever undertaken in Australia” two researchers at La Trobe University’s Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society conclude that approximately 98% of men and women identify as heterosexual.

In the context of the debate about same-sex marriage it is also important to note, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, that only 1% of couples describe themselves as same-sex. Instead of acknowledging that heterosexuality is the norm in relation to Australian society the Safe Schools Coalition presents a negative caricature. Nothing positive is presented about being heterosexual and in relation to the LGBTQI lifestyle there is no information about negatives, such as the dangers of gender reassignment or the higher rates of HIV/AIDS.

Given events over the last two to three weeks it is obvious that the Safe Schools Coalition program is highly controversial and the Commonwealth Government is right to call for an inquiry.  Submissions are due by March 11.

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and Director of the Education Standards Institute

Comments [10]

  1. Davidovich says:

    Since the ABS figures show only 1% of couples identify as same-sex, it is obviously beyond time that the Government recognised the disadvantage LGBTQI people are suffering and made special benefits available. The percentage would soar and even I might indulge in some penis tucking and my wife in breast-binding to qualify for such benefits.

  2. Jody says:

    I’ve just had an email from a recently retired highs-chool teaching friend. She was in the Catholic system tells me that ideologies have been commonplace in ALL schools for some time now (I retired end 2007), and that it’s all ingrained into the curriculum. Each child is to be treated with equality, tolerance and all are to be made safe and special just for being there!! What I want to know – given all that and the length of time this propaganda has been promulgated – is why were are seeing RECORD LEVELS of self-harm, depression and bullying in our young people? Something doesn’t add up. And it’s not as though anyone is reviewing the prevailing ideologies in light of this and saying, ‘wait a minute, things are changing for the worse..let’s see how we can do things differently”. But that would require a modicum of intelligence.

  3. Bill Martin says:

    It is not necessarily just intelligence that these people are lacking, Jody, but integrity and genuine goodwill towards all.

    It would be useful to know the proportion of children troubled by gender identity. Empirical evidence would seem to suggest that it would be minute. That being the case, those rare cases could and surely should be handled on an individual, case-by-case basis, by the principal and teaching staff of the school. That, of course, would be far too simple and sensible for the LGBT crowd because it would not include the opportunity to disseminate their Marxist propaganda.

    This quotation from the 2004 South Australian school curriculum that “gender is a social construction organised upon unequal power relations which define and limit opportunities for girls and boys… The current construction of the gender order also supports heterosexuality as the norm. Social constructions of advantage and disadvantage are of human making and therefore capable of change” – is particularly appalling, not least because of the inherent stupidity of it. One is compelled to shout in response: YES! HETEROSEXUALITY IS THE NORM! What form of moronic thinking would suggest otherwise?

    • Jody says:

      Your final sentence was the giveaway that you do actually agree with me!! Another email from my retired teaching friend, thus…”it has become very trendy in schools now for kids to be LGBTI…”.

      Today on SKY De Natale said he didn’t want a plebiscite on SS (interesting initials, btw!) marriage because “people like Cory Bernardi will have their views heard”. Oh, so that was the freudian slip – only those who agree with the Green/Left will be allowed to be ‘heard’. Of course the interviewer wasn’t intelligent enough to pick up on that. When will we get some SERIOUS journalists onto this issue? Whatever the Australian community decides via plebiscite will be soon enough overturned by the High Court, which happened in the USA on this same issue. It’s not a winnable situation for the majority. There’s too much anti-democratic thuggery involved.

  4. Richard H says:

    I support the argument made in this piece, but I must protest about one aspect of its presentation.

    ‘Gender’ is a grammatical classification, not a biological one. In a saner age, ‘gender’ was used only jocularly as a synonym for ‘sex’ used as a classifier. The use of ‘gender’ as a term in formal language to describe the male or female condition of a human being is a tool for the postmodernists’ social engineering that this article rightly condemns.

    We are fated to live in a world in which the mad fantasies of the hard left are pervasive. Please, can we have a little corner to ourselves where sanity rules?

    • ianl says:

      > Please, can we have a little corner to ourselves where sanity rules?

      You want a safe space ?

      Hmm …

      Well, unhappily, we don’t matter

    • Simon says:

      I think large swathes of Africa and the M.E will soon become available as the the biggest welfare exodus in history of mankind kicks off again in the summer months ahead. I’m sure we could start a new country somewhere there. It would be a real terra nullis.

      But the problem will be again that once we build a new country from scratch and it becomes the shining success it is bound to become, how are we going to keep the Socialists and other undesirables out? Would it be inevitable that we would have to let the cancer in, and end up exactly where we are today?

  5. jeffholl says:

    I taught in TAFE for 15 years and saw first hand the overwhelming number of staff who were openly and proudly Left/Green/Labour/Marxist-Socialist. I felt isolated and was routinely mocked and denigrated for my conservative politics and attitudes, as being unintelligent and pretty much sub-human for not holding the views of the Left. I would never send my children to a State school system to be indoctrinated such. Mr Donnelly’s article surprises me not.

  6. Jody says:

    Apropos the headline in this article, I’m “red” with anger after seeing Children in the Gay Mardi Gras last night on TV; children of gays and those who think they might be gay. THIS HAS GONE FAR ENOUGH!!!

    I blame much of the community who has pandered – in the most patronizing way – to the gay lobby telling them they’re beautiful people, and asking “when did you come out” to the extent this has become an empty cliche. Pandering, political correctness, entitlement, queer poltiics – these things have all seen us comprehensively indoctrinated and now we have one hell of a Frankenstein monster on our hands.

    I prefer to describe homosexuality by its biology: A GENETIC DEAD END.

  7. pgang says:

    I’m guessing that the ABS has rounded up to 1% from something like 0.01%.