HUNDREDS of activists flooded Forrest Chase Monday in a snap protest of the Turnbull government’s dropping of parts of the Safe Schools program.
The program’s designed to stop homophobic bullying and teach students about sexuality and gender diversity, but it has conservative Coalition MPs and senators up in arms.
The right-wingers forced a review which determined some information was inappropriate for younger people and links to external organisations — except mental health — should be removed — the “bad content” as Nationals MP George Christensen branded it.
The sanitised remainder will only be aired in high schools.
Victoria’s Labor premier Daniel Andrews has pledged to fully fund safe schools even if the feds pull their cash, and his education minister James Merlino attended a sister rally in Melbourne this week to throw his support behind activists.
Here in Perth protestors called on the Barnett government to do the same, passing around petitions calling for a commitment to fund the full program. They already have Labor and the Greens onside, with Labor’s Louise Pratt and the Greens’ Lynn MacLaren two of the speakers at the rally, along with the School Teachers Union of WA, the Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, PFLAG and the National Union of Students.
Mount Lawley senior high school student Oscar Kaspi-Crutchett spoke to the crowd and said “recently [anti-Safe School] activists have come to my own school and harassed students and parents to take flyers which spread ridiculous fallacies about Safe Schools, saying it could adversely affect students… are these the kind of zealots our government takes orders from?
“Mr Turnbull has backed down to the ultra-conservatives in his party’s underbelly, and to that I say it’s nothing less than a national embarrassment.”
Oscar said he was lucky because “my family’s accepting, my friends are nurturing, but unfortunately so many other students aren’t as lucky as I am… I know of students being attacked by their own classmates.
“Toxic attitudes of homophobia can sometimes be too overwhelming for those who can’t find the help they need. Every year we lose people to homophobia and transphobia… by gutting safe schools the government is endangering not only the safety but the very mental health and lives of our children.”
by DAVID BELL