A major petition against the Safe Schools program has been tabled in the NSW Parliament after pressure from Australia’s Chinese community.
The petition, which has 17,000 signatures, was lodged by a Liberal MP, Damien Tudehope, who said there are “significant concerns” over the anti-bullying program.
“One thing that our migrant communities have in common is that they won't allow anyone interfering with their parental rights, and programs like Safe Schools represent an attack on the rights of all parents,” Tudehope said in a statement.
“There is definitely a need to talk to kids about bullying, but it is clear that Safe Schools is not the answer.”
The program, which is run by Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA), is aimed at raising awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and/or intersex (LGBTI) school students and includes a strong anti-bullying focus.
The SSCA says research suggests that school remains one of the most unsafe places for same sex attracted and gender diverse people, where verbal and physical abuse and discrimination occurs for a majority of same sex attracted students.
In March, Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, released the findings of a sweeping review into the program, recommending that it be subjected to greater parental oversight, including parents’ right to withdraw their child from the program.
“Parents should have confidence in what is taught in a school and receive clear information, especially about potentially contentious issues,” he said.
In a statement yesterday, Greens MP, Mehreen Faruqi, said the apparent push against the program from conservative NSW politicians was “unwarranted”.
“We’ve seen these types of scare tactics used at a federal level,” she said.
“Here in NSW we need to stand strong as a community and continue to support our vibrant LGBTI communities.”