The so-called "Safe Schools" program, from Victoria, has gone national. In June, Safe Schools Coalition AUSTRALIA (SSCA) was launched by Safe Schools Coalition VICTORIA (SSCV) and the Foundation for Young Australians. SSCA is described as “dedicated to creating safer and more inclusive schools for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse young people.”
This is not the best way to deal with bullying and mental health issues experienced by school children. The SSCA program is not inclusive; it is focussed on same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students. It is based on a premise that the sexual identity is the cause for the student being bullied. The program is designed to encourage schools to be supportive of homosexuality. It forcefully campaigns against “homophobia and transphobia”, which is broadly defined to include any observation to the contrary.
SSCV urges student-led initiatives, such as "Queer Straight Alliances", to "lead a whole school culture shift for the better".
SSCA is funded by the federal Education Department. Senator Scott Ryan, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, was present at the National Safe Schools Symposium on 13 June.
The program is exclusive: it focusses on students who identify as same-sex attracted/gender diverse/intersex.
Yet all students who are bullied, for whatever reason, deserve support and protection.
Anti-bullying programs that work place the focus on zero tolerance for ANY reason.
Research shows that bullying on the grounds of same-sex attraction, intersex or gender identity is not one of the most common reasons for bullying. Eg. Toronto District School Board’s Research Report (Yau & O’Reilly, “2006 Student Census, Grades 7-12” p 21)
REASONS FOR BEING BULLIED, GRADE 7-8 [GRADE 9-12]
Body image 38% [27%],
Grades or marks 17% [12%] ,
Cultural or racial background 11% [14%] ,
Language 7% [7%] ,
Gender 6% [4%] ,
Religion 5% [5%] ,
Income 5% [5%]).
The National Safe Schools Framework excludes the overwhelming majority of students from its focus and protection. Most students are not same-sex attracted, intersex or gender diverse,* yet the SSCA is focussed only on those students. It promotes a type sexual orientation and prohibits, or wants to brand any critical opinion as “homophobic” or “transphobic”.
*See research conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University. Australia's largest ever sex survey in 2000-2003 of almost 20,000 people, revealed that 1.2% of adults identified as homosexual (gay or lesbian).
To break this down further: among men, 1.6% identified as gay or homosexual; among women, 0.8% identified as lesbian; 0.9% of men identified as bisexual; 1.4% of women identified as bisexual. The researchers concluded that “Relatively few Australians reported a sexual identity other than heterosexual.” Reference citation: Smith A, Rissel C, Richters J, Grulich A & de Visser R. 'Sex in Australia: Sexual Identity, Sexual Attraction and Sexual Experience Among a Representative Sample of Adults', Aust N Z J Public Health (2003); 27(2): 138-45. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14696704
Another study conducted in Victoria by the Victorian ALP Government in 2008, found that among those aged 12 to 24 years, 97.9% identified as heterosexual, 1.5% as bisexual, and 0.6% as homosexual ["Snapshot of our youth", Herald Sun (Melbourne), July 8, 2008, p.5]