Christian lobby boycotts Safe Schools Program
The Australian Christian Lobby is calling on followers to boycott a government-funded federal program that protects gay and transgendered school students from bullying and discrimination.
The lobby claims $8 million of federal funding is being wasted on the Safe Schools Coalition Australia, whose practices could lead to sexual harassment. It makes its claims in a series of documents published on its website and social media this week.
The Safe Schools program provides educational resources to improve safety and inclusivity of same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students at 212 member schools across the country.
It received $8 million in funding over four years under the previous Labor government and $200,000 from the state this year.
The lobby describes the program as an "activist campaign" using the "guise" of an anti-bullying agenda to "impose a sexual agenda on children".
It claims the program's "forced cultural acceptance model" is in line with "the radical Australian Education Union's policy" which supports the "normalisation" of homosexuality and transgenderism in schools.
Adherents are asked to stop the program by lobbying educators, MPs and religious leaders, or otherwise donating to their campaign.
A letter addressed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott was also published, in which the lobby claims the Safe Schools program ignores the "vast majority of school children" who are bullied for reasons other than their sexuality.
It says the program's advice to schools on providing facilities such as gender-less toilets, "could lead to problems with sexual harassment".
The lobby, which was established in 1995, brands itself as one of "the premier political lobbies in the country" which has "caused or helped facilitate policy changes" on the local and federal level.
Co-founder of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, Roz Ward, believes the campaign could have serious effects on the mental health of LGBTI students.
She cited the case of British teenager Elizabeth Lowe, aged 14, who hanged herself in September, because she feared telling her devoutly Christian parents she may be gay.
"The obvious meaning of their campaign is that it's not normal to be gay, so anyone who is gay or thinking about sexuality, and is getting messages around it not being normal … that's going to have an effect on your mental health and wellbeing," Ms Ward said.
Read the full story at: theage.com.au