A proposed bill seeks to prohibit schools from teaching that trans and gender diverse people exist, in a move labelled as “dangerous.” 

On Monday night, Equality Australia held an emergency briefing educating its community on Mark Latham’s Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020.

Ghassan Kassisieh, legal director at Equality Australia, led the event on social media and said there are five primary aims of the bill. 

These include prohibiting schools from teaching that trans or gender diverse people exist and should be treated with respect, prohibiting school counsellors from affirming a trans or gender diverse student or providing them with any support or referrals, and putting teachers at risk of losing their job when they support a trans or gender diverse student. 

“It allows a parent to deny their children access to lessons in public schools which contradict the parent’s political, social or personal values,” Mr Kassisieh said during the live video on social media.  

“It also requires schools to teach in a way that means they have to present a discredited counter-narrative to a lot of the dominant narratives they teach.” 

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 During his second reading speech of the bill, One Nation NSW Leader Mark Latham MLC said that parents are “sick and tired of teachers and school counsellors telling their children that gender is a choice.

“If they can convince young people that things such as family and gender are socially constructed and that there is some kind of conspiracy to deny them their true identity, then no part of our culture is safe.

“The Parliament should legislate to defend the family unit and the biological science of gender. Parents, not schools, are the teachers of the values of their children.”

Mr Kassisieh said the bill is an attack on not just public education, but education as a whole, and a child’s right to feel safe at school. 

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 Greens MLC David Shoebridge said he opposes the bill and will ensure “it never becomes law.

“Parliament should be working hard to ensure that content is more inclusive, that counselling and other support is reflective of the needs of students – not giving a platform to an obsessed transphobic bigot.

“The idea that we should be firing teachers or counsellors who support trans and gender diverse children who are asking for help is obscene. 

“Our caring teachers deserve better than this ridiculous ideological attack.”

Mr Shoebridge said the bill would fail, almost certainly breaches the Sex Discrimination Act and that it would be dangerous in the extreme if it became law.

He added that it should not be given any more attention than it warrants. 

“The referral of the bill to the committee will allow a full consideration of just how dreadful it is, and the damaging implications there would be if it was law,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“Any reasonable report from the committee will reflect this. It can, however, serve as a useful reminder to us that we must continue to work to protect LGBTQI children and teachers so that our public schools are places all children can thrive. 

“It is worth noting that currently, private and religious schools are allowed to actively practice exclusionary practices and teachings. If nothing else good comes from this Inquiry, we can and should build the case to outlaw discrimination in all schools, because every child and every teacher should be protected.” 

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 NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay said as, with all legislation, the bill will go through the standard Shadow Cabinet and Labor Caucus processes.

“Labor remains committed to ensuring all children in NSW can learn free from discrimination and that our state’s schools be places that celebrate inclusivity,” Ms McKay said. “We will always defend these principles.” 

The Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 was presented to the Upper House on Wednesday and immediately referred to the Inquiry. 

For more information on the bill and how to take a stand, watch Equality Australia’s full video here.

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