Radical gender course to be axed

The NSW government will dump a contentious sex education course for senior high school students that teaches radical theories about gender and sexuality.

Instead, classroom time currently devoted to the Crossroads curriculum is likely to be spent teaching Year 11 and 12 state school students how to drive a car, manage their finances and improve their mental health.

The imminent scrapping of Crossroads, which presents gender as a social construct and sexuality as constantly changing, was flagged yesterday by Education Minister Rob Stokes after a departmental review urged closer scrutiny of sex education materials and greater oversight by school principals.

The review was conducted by William Louden, former dean of education at the University of Western Australia, who also led the federal government’s review of the controversial Safe Schools program. Mr Stokes said he would adopt all Mr Louden’s recommendations.

“This report has led to a broader discussion about the relevance of the Crossroads curriculum in its present form and whether there may be better ways to use the 25 hours of classroom time involved,’’ Mr Stokes told The Australian.

“The Department of Education is undertaking a rethink of the program to ensure a focus on practical skills that young adults need for life outside school.

“These include topics such as basic financial services literacy including use of credit cards and consumer protection laws, mental health, domestic violence, drug education and safe driving skills.’’

The Louden review, prompted by revelations in The Australian that state schools in NSW are using teaching resources which promote gender as a “non-binary’’ continuum and encourage teachers to “de-gender” their classrooms, found most activities associated with the sex education curriculum were age appropriate.

However, the review identified some resources as being not suitable for all students. Among these is a Year 7 and Year 8 unit titled “Exploring Sexual Risk” which included “medically accurate but explicit material on sexual practices and the risks of infection”.

Another lesson titled “Generation XXX”, introduced students to hypothetical scenarios involving pornography and sexting. In one scenario, a young person called Sam is pressured by a partner to try “the type of sex that is common in … pornography” and “looks like it would be painful, and certainly not enjoyable”.

The explicit nature of some of the material “would be uncomfortable or unfamiliar for some students”, the review found.

One of Mr Louden’s recommendations, contained in a 47-page report seen by The Australian, is for the department to reconsider its role in developing curriculum support materials, including lesson plans, given the contentious nature of the topic.

The Louden review examined the research and scientific basis of sex education material, in particular the Crossroads program and the Teacher Toolbox, a 17-page resource for delivering content relating to sex, sexuality and gender diversity.

As part of the Crossroads curriculum, students are provided a handout titled “The Genderbread Person”, an infographic developed by US comedian and social justice advocate Sam Kellerman.

Students are told they can identify as a “woman, man, two-spirit, genderqueer or genderless” among the “infinite possibilities” of gender identity.

Mr Louden’s report was submitted in January to the Department of Education. The department has said the findings are “under consideration.’’

Mr Stokes’s move to ditch the Crossroads curriculum follows a decision by both the NSW and federal governments to withdraw support for Safe Schools, a nominal, anti-bullying program embedded with radical theories about sex and gender.

Originally published in The Australian REBECCA URBAN

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