NSW Parliament’s Education Committee which inquired into Pauline Hanson’s One Nation MLC Mark Latham’s anti-trans education bill, has made a series of recommendations that LGBTQI+ rights advocates have said are a “direct attack on the safety of trans and gender diverse young people in schools.”   

Activists have said that the report on the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020, proposed by Latham, include recommendations that if enacted would erase the rights of trans students and out them to their parents.

Equality Australia has  launched a tool for people to write to the Premier, leader of the opposition, minister of education and shadow minister calling on them to vote down the bill. The tool can be accessed at https://equalityaustralia.org.au/ignoranceineducationbill/

The committee that looked into the bill was also chaired by Latham. The other members of the committee were Wes Fang  from The Nationals, Liberal Party MLCs Catherine Cusack and Scott Farlow, Labor MLCs Anthony D’Adam and Courtney Houssos and Greens MLC David Shoebridge. 

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Labor MLC Anthony D’Adam and Greens MLC David Shebridge were the only committee members to oppose the report. 

‘Harmful Piece Of Legislation’

 

D’Adam in his dissenting statement said that the proposed Bill was a “harmful piece of legislation that will do real and lasting damage to our education system”. 

“Under the umbrella of parental primacy, it gives license to parents to undermine the efforts of teachers and principals to make schools welcoming and safe learning environments for these kids who are gender diverse,” said D’Adam. 

Shoebridge said that the bill “should be consigned to the dustbin of history as the last throes of a transphobic rightwing politics that has no place in our society.”

Outing Trans Students To Parents

Among the “parental primacy” provisions that the committee has endorsed are recommendations that would make it near impossible for trans and gender diverse students to confidentially come out to their teachers or school counsellors. 

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The report has recommended that school staff should be required to inform parents about the gender or gender transition of a student at the school. The only exceptions are when there is a court order or advise from the government child protection agency. 

The report also endorses provisions that will bar high school trans students from participating in sports teams that align with their gender and only trans girls who have undergone full medical transition would be allowed to use female toilets or facilities. 

The report further says that students aged below 18 can participate in LGBTQI+ student support groups at schools only if they have been granted consent by their parents. 

Bill Likened To Tatcher-era Clause 28

Just.Equal Australia spokesperson, Dr Charlie Burton, said that the Latham’s bill echoed the Thatcher-era Clause 28 law in Britain from the 1980s that forbade local authorities and schools from “promoting” homosexuality. 

“The report’s endorsement of One Nation’s bill – the most anti-LGBTIQA+ legislation introduced in Australia this century – is a shameful day for the NSW Parliament,” said Dr. Burton. 

“In an echo of the Thatcher-era Clause 28 law in Britain, the One Nation Bill introduced by Mark Latham seeks to erase trans and gender diverse young people from schools, and make life harder for all LGBTIQA+ youth,” added Dr. Burton.

‘NSW Government, Opposition Should Reject Report’

Equality Australia called on the NSW government and the opposition to reject the report. 

“We already know that almost one in every two trans and gender diverse young people will attempt to take their own life, and many are subject to bullying and unfair treatment at school. If these policies were implemented, they would make schools even less safe and place trans students’ lives at risk,” Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia said in a statement. 

“Many LGBTIQ+ young people don’t grow up in supportive households, that affirm and accept them for who they are, so it is vitally important to their wellbeing that they are able to safely and confidentially disclose to a school counsellor or teacher if they are questioning their gender or sexuality,” said Brown.  

Brown said it was time the NSW government stood up to Latham and asked the Parliament to vote the bill down.

“Under the guise of a discussion of parental rights and education, Mark Latham has orchestrated a dangerous and irresponsible airing of anti-trans views, and now proposes to amend policies to put the lives of trans and gender diverse youth at risk.  If put in place, these policies would be a dereliction of the duty of care that schools owe to their students, and inconsistent with their legal obligations under federal and NSW anti-discrimination laws,” said Brown.

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

 

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