By Rebecca Urban, The Australian. Teaching students at Sydney University have taken part in sexual and gender diversity training run by the Safe Schools Coalition, as the group looks to shore up supporters before its funding winds up next year.
A testimonial from the university’s faculty of education, seen by The Weekend Australian, reveals that Safe Schools has been involved in developing curriculum for the bachelor of education degree, incorporating sexual and gender diversity content into a nine-week unit aimed at final-year students.
The revelation comes as Safe Schools has ramped up its promotional work in the wake of community concern about the anti-bullying initiative straying from its original purpose by pushing contested gender theory and a politically correct approach to sexual education into classrooms.
Safe Schools NSW project officer Mary Flaskas last month conducted an in-service at the university, with the specific aim of raising awareness of the “important initiative”.
It is understood that more than 100 people attended, mostly teaching students. A similar session was held at the University of Western Sydney earlier this year. In Melbourne, the Australian Education Union recently teamed with Safe Schools to run a workshop to help teachers incorporate themes of sexual diversity and gender diversity across the curriculum.
Kevin Donnelly, a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University and co-author of the Review of the Australian Curriculum, said an apparent push to attract new and innovative funding sources was not surprising, given the federal government, which has contributed $8 million towards the program since 2013, recently confirmed funding would not continue beyond next year.
“University and graduate teachers are an obvious strategic play, but I’d argue that it’s unacceptable,” Dr Donnelly said.
“It’s really more about indoctrination of gender theory; the program is hardly balanced and it has limited educational value.”
He said graduate teachers should concentrate on more pressing matters, such as mastering their specialties and learning how to manage a classroom, rather than “pushing the latest political agenda”.
The Liberal member for Epping in NSW, Damien Tudehope, described Safe Schools’ encroachment on universities as consistent with its “Marxist approach” to social engineering, through targeting the next generation of teachers.
A Sydney University spokeswoman confirmed the Safe Schools material was delivered last year and again this year, but stressed it was an elective unit.