THE Queensland Government intends to “honour” an election commitment made to the LGBTI community to rollout Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA) across the state despite a call from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) to cut off funding.
The ACL stepped up its attack on the SSCA following a call last week for it to be defunded by federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne, and criticisms accusing it of “promoting queer sex” to children.
[showads ad=MREC]The hard-line Christian lobby has created a petition which urges the Palaszczuk government to “immediately cease this program which promotes radical sexual experimentation from Queensland schools [and] Promote already proven anti-bullying programs which cover all bullying”.
Since its inception last week, the petition has gathered over 6000 signatures.
During the 2015 state election, Labor committed to a rollout and endorsement of the anti-bullying, anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia program throughout Queensland schools.
“A Labor Government will develop a clear policy for school leaders to address issues commonly faced by [LGBTI] students,” then-deputy Labor Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin said.
“A future Labor government will ensure that an open and transparent tender process is held to select a community-based provider to deliver the federal Safe Schools program in Queensland schools.”
Speaking to the Star Observer, a spokesperson for Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones said the government had no plans to divert from their election promise: “We made a commitment to Queenslanders during the election and the government intends to honour that promise.”
The program, which has already received applications from nine Queensland schools despite not officially being launched yet, has been widely supported and approved in other states by government, non-governmental and religious organisations.
This week the ACL accused the program of encouraging the “dangerous practice” of chest binding – the process of binding down breast tissue during transition out of personal preference, or as a prelude or alternative to surgery – through material published by Victorian LGBTI youth organisation Minus18.
Referring to advice published on Minus18’s website on how to properly and safely practice chest binding, the ACL warned of potential fatal outcomes and the government would be liable.
“It is unbelievable that the federal government is funding advice that carries such a high risk to the safety of girls,” Queensland ACL director Wendy Francis said.
Speaking to Fairfax Media, Francis said her concern was not with the SSCA’s goal of promoting inclusive schools but its methods.
“This program tells teachers –’whatever the subject, try to work out ways to integrate gender diversity and sexual diversity across your curriculum’,” Francis said.
“Schools are also instructed to display prominent posters depicting same-sex relationships, transgenderism, bisexuality and intersexuality.
“The wallpaper of our children’s lives should not be continually sexual.”
Reports emerged this week that the federal Education Minister’s office had ordered the SSCA to cease promoting marriage equality, a criticism raised by the ACL in their initial attack last week.
A spokesperson for Pyne told Fairfax that SSCA’s purpose was to create “supportive and respectful environments for student learning” and that “it is not intended to be a media commentator”.
SSCA national program director Sally Richardson said they did not comment on issues not related to the program.
“Our focus is on challenging the bullying and discrimination of the LGBTIQ community within the school setting,” Richardson said to Fairfax Media.
The SSCA has been contacted for comment over the ACL’s latest claims.
Christopher Pyne’s office has not responded to multiple requests for comment.[showads ad=FOOT]