Religious educators from Access Ministries reportedly distributed the so-called Biblezines to year six students at Torquay College last year.
The material reportedly instructed students to seek counselling if they had homosexual feelings, condemned masturbation and sex before marriage as “sinful”, and said girls who wore revealing clothing were inviting sexual assault.
Roz Ward from school-based anti-homophobia and transphobia program Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) told the Star Observer the Biblezines could have had a severely negative impact on same-sex attracted and sex and gender diverse students.
“I think it would be extremely damaging for any young person to see this kind of message, especially if it’s come through a trusted source or through a school, even if the school aren’t really really aware of it. That sends a very strong message about expectations around sexuality and also gender,” she said.
Through her work in schools with teachers and students through SSCV, Ward said she sometimes encountered students parroting homophobic or transphobic views without really understanding them.
“We would often recommend to teachers that they ask young people where they got their ideas from, because it can quickly reveal that those ideas aren’t very deeply rooted, and that they come from particular people or organisations that are very keen to influence their ideas,” Ward argued.
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development announced it has launched an investigation into the actions of Access Ministries, calling the materials “totally inappropriate and offensive”.