So now it’s a thought crime to regard heterosexuality as the norm in human relationships. This is called “heterosexism”, joining racism and sexism as the new no-go zone, and the Proud Schools pilot program rolled out to 12 Sydney and Hunter high schools over the past two terms is aimed at stamping it out.

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.”

So there it is. If you think the vast majority of people are attracted to the opposite sex and that heterosexual human relationships are the norm, you are feeding homophobia.  The state government would prefer you didn’t know about its Proud Schools program against homophobia, “transphobia” and “heterosexism”.

It features professional learning for teachers, “celebrations of diversity for students” and “embedding discussion of sexuality and gender diversity into the classroom”.  Education Minister Adrian Piccoli wants you to think it is all the work of his predecessor Verity Firth, who started the whole project in the dying days of the Labor government.
But Piccoli kept the program, which cost $250,000, despite the fact that there is no evidence that homophobic bullying is a big problem in NSW schools and despite the fact anti-homophobia elements are already incorporated in the existing PDHPE syllabus.
At least a dozen MPs, from the Coalition, Labor and independents including Fred Nile, have discussed their concerns with Proud Schools in recent weeks.

One has provided The Daily Telegraph with extensive information about the program obtained under freedom of information or in questions on notice to Piccoli in Parliament.  From 175 pages of material, including a Proud Schools consultation report produced by Family Planning NSW and in minutes of meetings of the Proud Schools Steering Committee, a disturbing picture emerges of a program that appears designed more for indoctrination and propaganda than to eliminate bullying.

In Victoria a similar program, the “Safe Schools Coalition” to “support sexual diversity” in schools, holds 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.  What are pubescent children supposed to make of that?
The assumptions which underpin the Proud Schools program seem questionable, at best.

For one thing, a position paper produced for the project by Latrobe University claims 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”.
It also quotes another figure of “between 7 and 9 per cent” who are same-sex attracted.

This paints a picture at odds with figures around the world which put homosexuality at 2-3 percent of the population.
In fact the most comprehensive survey of sexuality in this country was also by La Trobe 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.  Another LaTrobe study which informed the Proud Schools consultation report, “Writing Themselves 3”, found that 80 per cent 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 rather than decreased over the past five years and that there are strong and significant links between the experience of homophobic abuse and self harm”.

Yet this is not the experience of the principals quoted in the Proud Schools Consultation report.
“There’s not a great deal of overt homophobia” says one.
“Not many cases of overt discrimination but there is name calling”, says another.
“I haven’t had any issues of homophobic violence at this school”, says another.
One principal said: “We have some openly gay male students. Some are embraced but some are bullied. If they’re popular they’re OK but if they’re not they get bullied.”
Another said: “We have one obvious transsexual student who doesn’t associate well with other students. Not because of his gender but because of other family issues. He does struggle with his identity. He gets sympathy from staff but gets ignored by students.”
A teacher is quoted in the Proud Schools report saying: “The problem is language rather than overt discrimination. Gay is still used as a derogatory term. What I see is language that is inappropriate, ‘That’s so gay’, etc.”

This teacher’s comment, concludes the report, “highlights the way in which some teachers continue to fail to recognise homophobic language as a form of violence and discrimination”.
But the report seems to want to find a big problem with little evidence that one exists.  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.

Yes, bullying and violence occurs at schools and every effort should be made to prevent it. But it does not primarily relate to sexuality, and false claims that it does could promote a backlash or even send the message that bullying for other reasons is not as bad.
The report also described as “worryingly simplistic” and “out of line with contemporary ideas of sexuality” the question raised by some teachers and students of whether people are “born that way or exercise choice with respect to same sex attraction or gender diversity”.

The contemporary view, according to the report is: “Spectrums of attraction and complex interactions with the social world influence sexual and gender identity.”  Whatever. It’s not up to academics to dictate attitudes to society via indoctrination of captive children in classrooms, and it’s irresponsible if politicians allow them to do so.

Parents expect their children to go to school to learn basic skills, and become socialised. They expect a safe environment in which everyone is treated with respect and without bullying, whether they are gay or straight.  But they also don’t expect that their values should be subverted by homosexual or any other sort of propaganda.  And they don’t expect that widespread acceptance of heterosexuality as the most common human experience would be demonised.

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