The normalisation of same-sex relationships received a setback recently in Australia when the federal parliament lower and upper houses threw out bills that would have allowed same-sex “marriage”. Nevertheless, the normalisation campaign continues on many fronts.
A report in the Australian Daily Telegraph today reveals that a programme teaching that it is wrong to regard heterosexuality as the norm for relationships is being piloted in 12 schools in the Australian state of New South Wales. There’s a similar programme in the state of Victoria. Academics and sexual libertarian groups such as Family Planning have had a heavy hand in them.
The target of these programmes is not just anti-gay discrimination and bullying but something much more radical -- what the theorists of the sexual diversity movement call “heteronormativity”. Training for teachers in the Proud Schools scheme advises them to “focus on the dominance of heterosexism rather than on homophobia”. Watch out for that other h-word.
The program defines "heterosexism" as the practice of "positioning heterosexuality as the norm for human relationship," according to the Proud Schools Consultation Report.
"It involves ignoring, making invisible or discriminating against non-heterosexual people, their relationships and their interests. Heterosexism feeds homophobia."
Such programmes assert that gender and sexuality are not fixed but fluid concepts. Students are taught not to think about gender and sexuality in a "binary" way, as in male/female or gay/straight, but as part of a continuum of choices.
The pilot programme, which is costing AU$250,000, is to be “made available” to non-government schools, according to a statement made by the NSW education minister, Adrian Piccoli, last year. The minister seems to realise he is on shaky ground with this scheme as he has tried to distance himself from it this week, pointing out that it was launched under a former (Labour) government.
Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine gives further details of the Proud Schools programme in a blog entry, including its highly questionable assumptions.
Prevalence of homosexuality. The programme draws on a paper by Latrobe University academics claiming that there is “strong evidence in 2011 that approximately one in 10 young people are sexually attracted to people of their own sex, or are unsure.” As Devine points out, this contradicts not only the generally accepted figure of 2 to 3 percent, but figures from Latrobe itself.
In fact the most comprehensive survey of sexuality in this country was also by LaTrobe University, in its 2003 Sex in Australia report which found 1.6 per cent of Australian men identify as homosexual and 0.9 per cent as bisexual. For women the figures are 0.8 per cent who identified as homosexual and 1.4 per cent as bisexual.
Prevalence of homophobic abuse in schools. Another Latrobe study used in drafting the programme found that 80 percent of homophobic abuse and violence for young people occurs at schools and that "violence and abuse is sustained and embedded in school culture". It claims homophobia has increased recently and it linked with self harm.
Oddly enough, though, principals quoted in a report for the scheme said they did not have much overt homophobia at their schools, and the NSW Education Department has had no complaints.
Over the past seven years The Daily Telegraph's education reporter Bruce McDougall has been monitoring NSW Education Department safety and security incident reports of violence and other problems at schools. He has not seen one report relating to homophobia.
The report sounds dismissive of teachers whose views do not concur with its own bias. After all, what would people who actually teach kids every day and do playground duty and coach sports know?
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