The future of the highly controversial Safe Schools program has become a pivotal election issue in marginal WA seats as candidates respond to parental concerns over its teaching of gender ideology, according to Australian Christian Lobby WA director, Dahlia Messiha.
Among those speaking out in recent days against the program are Government Minister Joe Francis and sitting MP Peter Abetz who have joined Premier Colin Barnett and Education Minister Peter Collier in voicing opposition to the program.
Ms Messiha said it was not surprising that concern was growing over WA Labor’s commitment to reduce education funding by $1.4 million. Labor is instead promising to direct this money toward the flawed program that teaches children their gender is fluid and that it is okay for a boy, identifying as a girl, to use the girls’ toilets.
“In NSW, the Government has banned gender theory from schools while the Federal Government also had misgivings with the program and has indicated it would not be continuing to fund it. Yet, the WA Labor Party appears to be ignoring all the best advice by promising to provide financial aid to keep it in WA classrooms,” Ms Messiha said.
Minor parties such as Family First, Australian Christians and One Nation have also voiced their opposition to Safe Schools.
In February, opposition leader Mark McGowan told the audience attending ACL’s Make it Count election event in Perth or watching it via webcast at different venues across WA, that he supported the program.
Premier Colin Barnett said he did “not support Safe Schools in any way”.
“It encourages experimentation, promiscuity, to very young children getting down into primary school,” the Premier said.
In its response to an ACL questionnaire, WA Labor said: “If the Federal Government withdraws funding, WA Labor will provide funding to allow those public secondary schools to choose to use the Safe schools program that meets their school's needs.”
The Liberal Party said the program was “not endorsed or mandated by the Department of Education. Schools have the flexibility to choose resources that best suit the context of their teaching and learning programs.”
Australian Christians said it opposed any program that sought to promote gender dysphoria and called for Safe Schools to be replaced by a program that promotes the health and wellbeing of all students.
Watch the full response from the leaders at the Make it Count event here
Read the Party positions on Safe Schools here