Yesterday was Australia’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.
So… the Australian Federal Government commemorated the day by removing almost anything of strength or substance from the national Safe School program.
The Safe School program was set up to provide free resources and support to schools around Australia. The program is meant to give staff and students the skills to combat ignorance towards sexuality, gender, identity, and anything else.
Sounds like the type of program that should be introduced to the Federal Parliament.
There’s a bunch of conservative scared backbenchers who aren’t happy about such open-minded policy.
They ordered a review.
It came back praising the program for its strength and positivity, predicting great change to come from it.
Well, the Conservatives couldn’t have that.
So they ordered their own review of the review.
I don’t know whether to compare this to Blackadder or Yes, Minister. Either way, this crap should be kept in fiction, not polluting the real world.
And how does the Prime Minister respond to these fearful bullying tactics?
He ‘guts the program’.
- It will now only be offered to High Schools;
- Any third-party groups or links (including support or counsel groups) will be removed;
- Removal of role-playing activities (despite child psychologists approving the initial programs);
- Parents have say on resources used in school (whether or not they support the program as a whole).
Maybe… Just maybe… We should take a minute to think about what this program is meant to achieve. Who it is meant to help.
Let me share a story with you:
(Copy of letter sent by parent to school principal – shared with permission)
First, let me just say that I apologize for overwhelming you with what is a lengthy email. I want to be clear that I recognize all sides of the issue, lay no blame on the school, but I have concerns I need to share and am willing to work with all of you to address them somehow.
I know kids will be kids. I totally own that L is not perfect. However, whatever is going on at school is really bothering him, and it’s starting to feel as though it’s endemic in the population.
L is different. I get that. He’s not the norm in various ways. However, for the past two years, he’s had to deal with the gender confines at school. Today, while he was in class, someone he doesn’t know laughed at him for singing “Let It Go” with the girls. Or he perceived someone to be laughing at him because it has happened so many times that when he is singing with girls and kids are laughing that is his internalization. Several times in the last year, he has come home upset because his pink shirt or his pink lunchbox or his pink shoes or his Elsa shirt or his My Little Pony shirt has been mocked by other students for being girlie (both boys and girls, and all grades). As much as I recognize that boys calling others boys “girlie” as an epithet is how it has always been, I feel responsible to L, and whoever he chooses to be, to teach him to be better and to expect better.
We have talked at home about being yourself. We share videos of guys singing “Let It Go” or girls liking Star Wars. We have done everything we can at home to reinforce that it is ok to be yourself. We have tried very hard to take care of our concerns at home.
However, today, L came home saying things like “I’d like to move to a desert or forest to be alone where no one can tease me.” When I suggested the forest since it has water and you need water to live, I got “I want the desert because then I’d die. I wish I was dead because then no one could make fun of me.”
Perhaps some kind of awareness program would benefit all of the students. I can’t imagine L is the only non-conforming child, and he isn’t even particularly outside the norm. I know he is sometimes mean to other kids, but this has been very specific to being slightly outside the gender norm over the past two years. I cannot imagine he is the only one.
No, dear minion. Your son is not the only non-conforming child.
But his child-voice is small in comparison to the fearful conservatives who cannot face that which they cannot control.
Australia’s Safe School program was supposed to protect and enable kids like L, to defeat the bullying in schools. It is not about ‘sexually liberating children’; it is about giving children a safe environment to be themselves.
Hey Conservatives! If you’re worried about the kids being liberated, it’s only because you recognise the poor mites are already restrained by your narrow views.
The Safe Schools Program was meant to empower children against bullying.
Instead, all we have done is show them how the bullies win again.
If you or someone you know is being bullied at school, there are some good tips shared at GeekDad – the organisations mentioned ARE US based, so speak to your local school about the equivalent departments in your jurisdiction.
Not sponsored or endorsed – just frustrated with the fearmongering politicians everywhere.