You're Teaching Our Children What?

Roz Ward departs La Trobe following program’s scrapping

Up to half of young people were likely to be same-sex-attracted, Safe Schools creator Roz Ward claimed at a recent forum where she spoke in defence­ of the controversial program, despite having severed ties with it three months ago.

Ms Ward, who managed the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria until the state government took it over in March, has been on an unofficial roadshow promoting the program regardless, and was due to brief clinicians at the state’s newest children’s hospital last week before withdrawing.

She also has left La Trobe University, which suspended her for alleged misconduct last year before reinstating her following legal threats, announcing the move on social media on June 8.

Speaking at a Victoria University event organised for Pride Week last month, Ms Ward took aim at conservative politicians, ­academics and the Murdoch press (which includes The Aust­ralian), blaming them for the controversy over sexual and gender diversity program.

She addressed her own “coming­ out” as a 16-year-old before talking about how the Safe Schools program aimed to challenge “heteronormativity”.

According to Ms Ward, the often-cited claim that 10 per cent of people were likely to be attracted to their own sex — a figure Safe School’s materials also relied upon — was a “joke”. “It’s more like 40-50 per cent of young people who are not ­exclusively attracted to the opposit­e sex,” she said. “That’s how fluid sexuality is headed.”

Ms Ward, a LGBTI activist and Marxist, courted controversy for politicising Safe Schools, which initially was billed as an anti-bullying program aimed at high-school students. It sparked a backlash when its origins in queer theory became known, including its promotion of gen­der as “non-binary” or “fluid”.

After scandals, including­ Ms Ward’s criticism of the Australian flag and her harassment of a Donald Trump support­er at a public rally, the Victori­an government announced in December that it would take over the Safe Schools program.

NSW, South Australia and Tasmania have also announced they will develop prog­rams to deal with homo­phobia in the schoolyard, abandoning the ­national Safe Schools scheme.

A Victorian government spokes­woman said Ms Ward had not been booked at Monash Children’s Hospital to speak on behalf of the program and the hospital confirmed she had cancelled.

A La Trobe spokesman declined to comment.


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