The Safe Schools Coalition has shown itself to be a disturbing government-sponsored normalisation of alternative sexualities with little regard for the legitimacy of any other view on the matter. A bold initiative of this nature would once have been unthinkable, but now represents a prime example of how effective social engineering conspires to indoctrinate people into willingly overturning once-held views. In promoting safe schools, such programs actually encourage the reverse bullying of non-adherents, even manipulating data to do so. The positive value of endorsing tolerance and safety in schools need not be built on forced social redefinitions that assume the progress of time to be equivalent to the progress of society. Even among evangelical Christian young people, we now see ready and hard-edged acceptance of a new syncretism that mixes popular secularity with selected biblical narratives. This befuddled moralising comfortably navigates endless inconsistencies in a conveniently customised spirituality chillingly characterised by the question triggering the Fall of Eden, “Did God really say…?” The agenda of the Safe Schools Coalition needs to be exposed.
Some alarming quotes from its resources reveal the sort of bias that is disturbing in a society that prides itself on high educational standards. Some important considerations arise for those at risk of being seduced by this new morality through glossy publications and hand-picked testimonials. How ironic that these would insinuate intolerance by conservatives when this coalition propagates its own unabashed dogmatism. It now seeks to shamelessly foist it on impressionable children through compulsory education in classrooms. A few observations are therefore important here.
1. The data is misleading. Research shows, we are told, that “10% of students are same-sex attracted” and that “4% are gender diverse or trans.” In the past, similar claims and percentages have been attributed more widely on the basis of misrepresented data no less irresponsible than these examples. The first statistic is derived from a study asking school-age students about current feelings (download here). It found that 5.6% are attracted exclusively to those of the same gender whilst 4.4% are unsure and are therefore assumed to fit the same category. The second statistic is based on a New Zealand report revealing 1% were transgender and 3% were unsure of their sexual identity, therefore being assumed to be transgender or gender diverse. Caution is needed about extrapolations and inferences about permanent identity based on transient feelings, especially given that gender confusion can be a normal short-term aspect of adolescence. Importantly, too, the Australian research shows that only half of all students of Year 12 age in Government, Catholic and Independent schools have actually had sexual intercourse and the figure is less than a quarter for Year 10 students; everyone is not ‘doing it’.
2. Identity is not based on sexuality. It is not based on sexuality or on the frequency and quality of sexual experience. Identity surely involves more healthily accepting who we were created to be and on better understanding factors that might impact upon this reality. This will seem offensive to someone who has rejected objective truth as an anachronism, but acceptance of such truth is surely not offensive in itself. Nevertheless, will parents really accept schools telling them that they will “confirm the toilets, changing rooms, showers, and swimming facilities based on the student’s gender identity and the facilities they will feel most comfortable using”? Is a boy’s entrance into a girl’s toilet block really going to withstand teachers’ assurances that he is currently assuming a different sexual identity?
3. The Safe Schools program does involve indoctrination. Ironically, religious instruction was opposed for the same reasons, but if it is replaced (as suggested) by a respectful relationships program, then helpful anti-bullying messages can serve to protect any students and easily become part of a wider curriculum without having to be pro-LGBTI, as in the Safe Schools material. In reality, all values-shaping inescapably involves some indoctrination, so the question is what kind our schools and our taxpayer dollars should support.
Hatred, bullying and intolerance are often demonstrated against, much more than by, conservatives. Although the safe sex material aims to avoid such extremes, it depicts Christians as mature only if they are liberal. Selective anecdotes are used from supposedly enlightened people with religious backgrounds. Should conservative Christians be considered homophobic on the basis of holding particular beliefs when most have every intention of still being loving and gracious toward all people, irrespective of their lifestyle choices or self-perceptions?
Is it really acceptable to parents to insist, too, that schools “update all school records to reflect the student’s preferred name, gender identity and gender marker (e.g. F/M/X)”? Are schools really being told that “this name and gender should be considered their real ones”? Do parents really feel comfortable sending their children to schools that, instead of offering impressionable young people with mature guidance, will seed irresponsible thoughts as they allow “the appropriate uniform that matches the gender identity of the student” or as they interview students about school camps to “ask them what accommodation arrangements would make them feel most comfortable”?
4. This does offend Christians. Each taxpayer is funding the very propaganda that is slowly eroding the social foundations of society. We are being drawn into such baseless moralising propaganda built on the premise that you may “believe what you want”, “embrace” your sexual identity, and accept that “the idea that you’ve gotta act a certain way just because of what bits you have between your legs is pretty outdated”. Irrespective of the faults and failings of a minority within Christian churches, it is completely illogical to implicitly or explicitly deride the very faith that has undergirded the successful growth of the society within which we live, one that is more greatly appreciated when travelling to nations without that heritage. Conservative views are not irresponsible and they are not unsafe.
I wonder if the Christian Church has not partly invited this continuing journey down the moral slippery slope by being too gracious and flexible on sexual standards within its own ranks over previous decades. Naturally, I cannot stand in personal judgment and condemnation over individuals who do not even honour biblical standards in their own lives and who agree with the Safe Schools Coalition that, “at the end of the day, why should anyone give a damn? A person’s gender, their sexuality, how they act, or who they hook up with is no one’s business but their own.”
But those purporting to follow a Christian faith will surely pursue a relationship with a God who invites conformity to Scripture for their own good (assuming a consistent contextual understanding). Surely, therefore, all sex outside of heterosexual marriage is still forbidden for those faithfully adhering to a biblical standard, no matter how “outdated” this may seem and no matter how liberal theologians might deconstruct it. Consistency that balances love, truth and repentance biblically would undoubtedly make Christianity far more compelling than condemning, but any church that fails to honour some of its own accepted benchmarks can hardly start imposing preferred ones on others. Objection to the increasingly popular Safe Schools Coalition is fundamentally concerned with keeping this new morality, its propaganda, and its associated vilifications out of the classrooms to which conservative objectors are still required to send their children.