There are not just two camps of people: caring citizens who support Safe Schools or hate-filled degenerates who wish children harm.
Just days after giving a presentation on the topic “how to speak and disagree in public”, I witnessed further examples of immature and dishonest debate.
In the halls of Parliament recently there was a brief and unpleasant exchange between the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Liberal Senator Cory Bernadi. Bernadi called Shorten a “fraud”, while Shorten yelled out, “At least I’m not a homophobe, mate”.
Last week on theage.com.au, Age reporter Jill Stark presented what is now an all too common false-antithesis: either we are progressive, enlightened and support gender theory, or we are conservative, culturally regressive bigots.
She wrote: “We cannot let the march of equality be held to ransom by a powerful minority of religious zealots who dress up their bigotry as concern for children.”
She went on to say: “These are desperate acts from ideological crusaders who refuse to accept that the inequality they have built their privilege on is in its death throes.
But fear is a powerful emotion. If you can scare conservative voters into thinking the by-product of equality is a world in which their children will be forced into some sort of state-sanctioned gay induction camp, facts are no longer necessary.”
Is Stark right? Are our only options, be caring citizens who support Safe Schools or hate-filled degenerates who wish children harm? Of course not.
• There are Australians who don’t identify with conservative politics and who reject current gender theory.
• There are many Australian Christians not aligned with the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), and who affirm the historic Biblical understanding of gender and sexuality.
• It is possible to be appalled and saddened by bullying that children are subjected to at schools, and not support the Safe Schools program.
• It is possible for our schools to teach values such as respect and kindness amid diversity without pushing specific and questionable gender theory. Many schools are doing an excellent job discouraging bullying without needing Safe Schools.
• It is possible to have legitimate concerns over Safe Schools and not be homophobic and all the other insidious and untrue name calling that Stark and others are resortingto. There is a note of irony in how anti-bullying advocates are among the quickest to disparage and heckle those who don’t support their views.
• It is possible parents don’t want their 11 and 12 year old children being encouraged to explore sexuality in school.
• It is possible many parents would be concerned if our schools permitted male students to use female toilets and change rooms.
I know many people in the community who fit all the above statements, although sadly most remain quiet and anonymous because they fear retribution from the likes of Stark.
Finally, Stark tries to reassure readers with this concluding remark: “For the record, Safe Schools does not teach children how to be gay. It encourages young people to be themselves without fear of persecution or judgment, and fosters empathy for those who are different to them.
There is no “gay manual” because sexuality is not something that can be learned. Any suggestion to the contrary is a deliberate attempt to deny the very existence of LGBTI people.”
While I understand her logic, she has a very narrow take on the material presented on the Safe Schools website and on its linking sites.
As a parent I am all to aware how what my children read and what they watch influences how they think and behave. It is simply benighted, or least naive, to conclude that Safe Schools will not impact the behaviour and thinking of children.
I am not interested in the politics of this debate, but I am speaking as a concerned parent, and as a person who is concerned by the continued untrue rhetoric some journalists and politicians would have us believe about Australians who dare question current gender ideology.
Murray Campbell is the Senior Minister at Mentone Baptist Church. Twitter @MurrayJCampbell