A poignant question answered with brutal clarity

Last week, as the Safe Schools debacle unfolded in our Parliament and the media, among the hateful howls of a vocal and apparently disproportionately powerful anti-LGBTI minority, I asked a poignant question: “how much longer a liberal, progressive, secular democracy like Australia is willing to continue to allow the denigration of LGBTI people, and the denial of fundamental rights and liberties to their fellow LGBTI citizens, on the basis of the nonsensical objections of that minority?!”

My question was answered by the Coalition government with brutal clarity: indefinitely, and as long as it serves their political interests.

By last Friday sadly, but predictably, a gutless Prime Minister and his cowering Minister for Education announced the gutting of the Safe Schools program.

In the meantime, one of the architects of the demise of the Safe Schools program, Senator Cory Bernardi, continued the lies and misinformation that characterised the campaign against the anti-bullying program, in an email response he sent to a mum, Pia Cerveri, who wrote to him to express her support for Safe Schools:

Bernardi Email
What Senator Cory Bernardi really thinks about Safe Schools …

Of course, we have to remind ourselves this is the Senator who saw it fit to weave bestiality into an argument against marriage equality …

In the meantime Michael Bradley, managing partner of Sydney law firm Marque Lawyers, wrote a scathing article which eloquently demolished the dated ideology, and confused terminology, of the children being indoctrinated into a ‘Marxist agenda of cultural relativism’ argument mounted by Senator Bernardi against Safe Schools:

If you suspected that Marxism and Safe Schools have no connection real or imagined, you’d be right. Neo-Marxism isn’t actually a thing, but neo-anything is a very modern form of insult.

As for “cultural relativism”, it’s a principle that says that a person’s beliefs and actions should be understood in terms of their own culture; that is, it’s all relative, there are no absolutes when it comes to judging human behaviour. It does kind of make sense in Bernardi’s mouth, because his judgments of others’ behaviour do seem to be quite absolute. However, it has nothing to do with Marxism.

The fact that they’ve chosen the now-irrelevant ideology of Marxism simply tells us that these men … are firmly stuck in the 1950s and still feeling the existential fears of that time.

The problem with evoking Marxism in the Safe Schools debate, Michael Bradley (24 March 2016)

The reality of the situation is that the Coalition’s bigoted, right-wing, homophobic zealots were victorious, yet again. An outcome that does not bode well for the ill-fated proposed marriage equality plebiscite. What we have seen in the last couple of weeks over the anti-bullying Safe Schools program, was just a very small taste of the ‘respectful’ debate to come once the plebiscite kicks off.

While our successive governments have fought religious extremism overseas for over a decade, sacrificing the lives of many Australian soldiers for the cause, at home Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition government chose to capitulate to its own religious extremists.

This government is willing to continue the denigration of the LGBTI community unabated, indefinitely, and with impunity, and risk the lives and wellbeing of LGBTI youth in order to appease their bigoted, right-wing, homophobic zealots.

This Prime Minister is willing to sacrifice vulnerable LGBTI youth at the altar of political leadership and power, despite their touching public cries for help, and strong community support.

Carter Smith, a young queer student, who appeared on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night pleaded with politicians to stop using ‘in-pain children as political bullets’ and stand up for the Safe Schools anti-bullying program. He rubbished the suggestion the Safe Schools program is about introducing ‘radical gender theory,’ calling it ‘absolutely ridiculous’.

“I think the problem is politicians are using young, innocent, in-pain children as political bullets. That is unacceptable.

Kids are being hurt when they hear this entire debate about, ‘oh, well, no we can’t really talk about that, it’s not really safe’. It is still creating the idea that they are different, that they are wrong, that they are not being accepted.

That is driving kids to hurt themselves, that is driving kids to kill themselves.

A new social media project called the ‘The Safe Schools Story Project,’ also popped up on Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, in response to the attacks on the anti-bullying program, giving an opportunity to young LGBTI people to share their stories of bullying and persecution, to highlight why the program is essential for the health, safety, and often survival, of countless young people.

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"It has taken me 20+ years to wholly accept myself. For as long as I can remember, I have known that I was same-sex attracted, though this certainly did not correlate with an earlier acceptance. The confusion and self-loathing that accompanies this self-awareness is incredibly harmful to you as an individual, particularly in your youth, and to the people around you. Despite my incredibly open, loving family, I was never able to love or accept myself, and was mad with the world for being forced to live a life that I did not understand amongst people who I didn’t think would ever understand me. Apart from cliché name-calling and the occasional empty threat, I managed to escape too much harm from outsiders about my sexuality comparatively to so many young people. I am certain that if the S.S.C was operational throughout my time at an all-boys Christian Brothers secondary school, I would have at least been able to make sense of what it was that I was experiencing and perhaps been able to not only accept myself, but also be more comfortable around others who were more open and confident with their sexual orientation, and begin to allow others to accept me as well. It’s also important to note the overrepresentation of the LGBTIQ community in the homeless population. These people, many of them youth, experience a combination of the worst side effects of homelessness, while also too fearful from previous experiences to access services in place to help them. Creating a safe, inclusive schooling environment while educating families and teachers will see these numbers decrease." – James, 26 #safeschoolsstoryproject #safeschoolscoalition #queer #auspolitics

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"As a young queer person in a catholic, all girls high school, there was no opportunity for support, friendship or understanding of my gender or sexuality. I hated being there, and clung to what I could outside of that community, eventually coming out as a lesbian, even though that didn't quite fit, because that was the most easily understood term I could tell my peers. I knew some of them were also queer, but none felt comfortable enough to come out. It always felt like a secret. I discovered pretty abruptly that I didn't have the acceptance of my teachers when I was told I couldn't bring a same sex partner to my high school formal. If it weren't for my parents writing a letter to the principal explaining that my relationship with the person I wanted to take was purely platonic, I never would have been allowed. To date, I am the only student from my high school to have ever taken a same sex partner to the formal. I battled serious mental illness all through school and attempted suicide twice, partly because of the isolation and shame I felt in that environment. I saw nobody around me who understood or accepted my sexuality, and I had no indication that that would change after I left. The idea of school being an accepting and safe place is, unfortunately, a foreign concept to me. Back then, I had no idea where to find help and resources, let alone friendships and acceptance. Having the safe schools program would have changed all that." – Luca, 23, queer & non-binary trans #safeschoolsstoryproject #safeschoolscoalition #queer #trans #genderqueer #auspolitics

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Sadly, the ‘good Christians’ of the Coalition were not publicly reprimanded over their hurtful actions and hateful words by any of Australia’s major Christian denominations either, which can only be interpreted as tacit approval of those actions and words.

This Easter Christians around the world are commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who, according to Christian beliefs, died for our sins over two-thousand years ago on the cross.

Presuming that story true for a moment, no wonder Christ is not in a hurry to return! Based on the conduct of many ‘good Christians’ today, and over the past fifty, let alone two-thousand years, Christ would be back on that cross in no time, dying for their sins all over again.

I also stated last week that it is now clear and indisputable that some people, a minority, will simply never accept marriage equality, tolerance, let alone acceptance, towards the LGBTI community, or in some extreme cases even the existence of LGBTI people.

My point is further illustrated by the response to the latest Medibank Private ‘Health cover for every kind of family and individual’ advertising campaign, which featured same-sex couples, among others. Some lodged complaints with the Advertising Standards Bureau about the fleeting same-sex kisses seen in the ad: Medibank Private Ltd (Case Number 0062/16). Admittedly, complaints were also made about the ad showing a breastfeeding woman.

I am not a prude but I don’t believe this is appropriate. I should be able to explain about people with alternative lifestyles when I feel it is appropriate. I wouldn’t let my young children watch a show with homosexual couples on it, but how am I supposed to censor advertisements? It is totally inappropriate and it pushes someone else accepted values on to my family. As a Christian do I have to keep the television turned off? Surely I do not have to also censor ads during family viewing times.

I object to advertising showing males kissing males, females kissing females …

I don’t want to see two men kissing.

I object to the content of a woman kissing a woman and a man kissing a man and it being portrayed as “normal” family.

As the ASB had done with similar complaints in the past, these complaints were promptly dismissed.

In its decision, the ASB effectively informed the complainants that in 2016 there is nothing scandalous or sexually explicit in a television ad acknowledging the existence of LGBTI people and same-sex couples, and showing them embracing or kissing:

The Board acknowledged that some members of the community might be uncomfortable with images of men kissing men, or women kissing women, but considered that the depictions of kissing in the advertisement are very brief and are not sexualised or shown to lead to any further intimacy.

Consistent with previous determinations against similar complaints concerning men kissing in cases 0487/12 and 0026/15, the Board considered that in the current advertisement the brief depictions of a man kissing a man, and a woman kissing a woman, were in the context of a broad range of depictions of loving relationships and that these scenes were not gratuitous or inappropriate. The Board noted the complainants’ concerns that the advertisement did not depict men and women kissing each other, only same-sex kissing, and considered that we do see a man and woman kissing, as well as parents kissing their children and adults kissing their parents. The Board noted that all the scenes are given equal attention and that they are all in the context of an advertisement showing different family situations. The Board acknowledged that some members of the community might prefer not to see depictions of same sex couples and indeed of same sex couples kissing but considered that this is not of itself a breach of the Code. The Board considered that no undue focus is directed at any person or type of person, including the scenes showing same-sex couples kissing.

It would be nice to believe the Australian public will take into account the bigotry and homophobia of the Coalition government at the upcoming Federal election, among their plethora of cultural, economic, and social shortcomings.

But I hold no true hope for that happening.

No doubt, as usual, this election will play out as most Australian elections of late, on the basis of the lowest common denominators: fear, loathing and scaremongering … with the LGBTI community thrown in as a bonus political sacrifice.

Update – 18 April 2016: The Australian is at it again

Clearly not content with the baseless hysteria it stirred up about the Safe Schools program, on 18 April The Australian published another hack piece titled ‘Protect kids from Marxist sexualisation programs‘. A ‘worthy’ follow-up to the author’s hack job on the Safe Schools program titled ‘Left falls into Queer extremists’ trap with Safe Schools program‘, back in March.

In this latest ‘opinion’ piece The Australian took aim at the Victorian government over a new program designed to educate children about domestic violence, named ‘Building Respectful Relationships’. The article also took the opportunity to have a dig at the continued Victorian funding of the Safe Schools program in open defiance of a cowardly Coalition government, and the hateful Christian anti-LGBTI groups The Australian gave a huge platform back in February and March.

The author elected to attack the program designed to combat domestic violence by referencing ‘pedophilia’, ‘transgenderism’, ‘anal sex’, ‘the sexualisation of children’ and ‘Marxism’, because … why not?!

It’s notable how The Australian carefully places her articles under a giant ‘Opinion’ banner, presumably to make it clear facts will not get in her way …

The opening lines of this ridiculous opinion piece set the tone for another unsubstantiated and shrill fear-mongering exercise by that bastion of journalistic integrity:

There are few forms of predation that offend our common morality more than child sexual abuse. During the 1970s, pedophile groups capitalising on the sexual liberation movement sought to redefine their exploitation of youth as an expression of children’s sexual rights, self-determination and autonomy. Groups such as the North American Man/Boy Love Association claimed children were sexual beings and sought to repeal age of consent laws to liberate their sexuality. They were welcomed by fringe elements of the neo-Marxist minorities movement that advocated sexual libertarian ideology under Queer and “sex positive” politics.

To write, and then print, such a nonsensical piece, especially on the back of The Australian’s outrageously hateful and misleading campaign against Safe Schools having caused untold damage to LGBTI youth in this country, is downright contemptible.

And no, the writer is not ‘entitled’ to her opinion. She’s only ‘entitled’ to what she can reasonably argue and factually support. Anything else is good ol’ fashioned bigotry, and hateful prejudice, deserving of contempt and ridicule. This latest opinion piece is such a hogwash, attempting a response on the same intellectual level would require a frontal lobotomy. It’s becoming exhausting to monitor and correct the half-truths, misinformation, and dimwitted arguments regurgitated by The Australian’s conservative ‘journalists’ and ‘columnists’ like a mother-bird to their equally misinformed, dimwitted and wilfully ignorant ready to swallow anything audience.

The only way to do justice to this latest piece of appalling trash masquerading as an ‘opinion’ is to reproduce it in full for your own consideration, so the writer and The Australian can’t complain about the piece being taken out of context.

In my view, the only context in which this piece can be seen is hateful, bigoted, uninformed homophobia, and ignorance of tragic proportions. The author disgraced herself by writing this ‘opinion’, and The Australian by printing it:

“Today, the discourse on children’s sexual rights and the belief they are sexual beings are invoked to justify school programs that sexualise youth at ever younger ages.

Daniel Andrews’ Labor left government in Victoria invokes neo-Marxist rhetoric to defend highly questionable school programs that encourage the sexualisation of children. The Safe Schools Coalition and Building Respectful Relationships programs were introduced using minority politics as the rationale. In each case, a state-designated minority group and political cause are aligned in a program of social change that uses youth as change agents. Program designers create an urgent health case for government funding without causal evidence to validate a linear relationship between program activities and core objectives.

The Safe Schools program was created for the state-designated minority group LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex) for the cause of anti-bullying with the stated objective to improve health outcomes. The program encourages young people to become change agents for the cause of sexual ­diversity. When the program was criticised by conservative Senator Cory Bernardi, Labor leader Bill Shorten accused him of homophobia. After community outrage following revelations that program co-founder Roz Ward designed Safe Schools as part of a Marxist social change strategy, the liberal coalition withdrew commonwealth funding beyond 2017. Despite the Marxist objective of the Safe Schools program — or perhaps because of it ­­­— Daniel Andrews continues to defend it.

His education minister James Merlino vilified politicians concerned about the hard Left’s indoctrination of children, calling them “bigots”. It is uncertain what pejoratives Merlino, a heterosexual married man, has devised for the lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who oppose Queer politics and the Safe Schools program.

Unfortunately, the SSC debacle is not isolated. Last week, it transpired that the Andrews government had produced another school program that sexualises children. As with the SSC program, Building Respectful Relationships began with a state-designated minority group, women, aligned with the important cause of domestic violence prevention. The case for government funding was again framed as a health imperative, namely, the prevention of violence against women. And once again, the program was introduced in schools without causal evidence linking its exercises to the stated objective.

Like Safe Schools, the BRR program promotes a radical agenda divorced from its stated program objective. It promotes the sexualisation of children by inculcating techniques and beliefs centred on the premise that children are sexual. Instructors are encouraged to sexualise children, and children to sexualise themselves and their peers. They are asked to view highly sexualised personal ads and write their own, discuss transgenderism and anal sex. Program authors acknowledge that one exercise may cause “disassociation” in children.

Sexualising and inducing a dissociative state in children are methods of pedophilic predation. They are not methods of domestic violence prevention.

It is increasingly common to find the sexualisation of very young children promoted as part of sex education in schools. In 2009, the United Nations produced International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education. The first iteration met with controversy after conservatives revealed it sexualised prepubescent children by promoting masturbation. The offending sections were removed only after public outcry.

NGOs have joined the UN in a push for radical sexual programs aimed at youth under the auspices of sexual diversity and sexual health. The International Planned Parenthood Foundation claims that “the taboo on youth sexuality is one of the key forces driving the AIDS epidemic”. In fact, the premature sexualisation of youth, especially the exploitation of girls for prostitution and other harmful cultural practices, have been key drivers of HIV transmission in Southeast Asia and Africa for ­decades. Despite the fact, the IPPF asserts repeatedly that “young people are sexual beings” and criticises the Catholic Church for imposing barriers on young people, denying “pleasurable and positive aspects of sex”. Its solution is comprehensive sexuality education, which it describes as perhaps “the single most important gift that parents can offer to their children”.

The Netherlands government promotes comprehensive sexuality education in what some call the Dutch model. Under the Dutch CSE model, schoolchildren begin sexual programs at four years of age. Modules for young children include “what feels nice” and “does bare make you blush?” Lessons marketed under the “Spring Fever” package include “being naked”, a module that explores nudity, undressing and being in the bath.

It is unclear why any adult would solicit an account of how a child undresses or why the Dutch state would mandate such discussion in schools. CSE advocates defend their programs with studies that indicate efficacy, but mainly in comparison to abstinence programs. There is a more moderate middle path that provides children requisite knowledge in biology, safety from violence and mutual respect without encouraging their sexualisation in activities that resemble grooming.

The sexualisation of childhood by governments and NGOs should be a source of broad community concern. The state has no business interfering in childhood by conditioning children’s sexual responses. As a whole, parents remain the best arbiters of their children’s morality and guardians of their development. Australian children are ranked 14th in literacy and 19th in mathematics according to OECD reports. Governments should take remedial classes in teaching kids the basics of reading, writing and arithmetical instead of indulging messianic pretensions to parenting by proxy.”

Make of that what you will …

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