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.