Media reports that gender exclusive language is not a cornerstone of the controversial safe schools program are misleading, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

Australian Christian Lobby spokesperson Wendy Francis said the so-called Safe Schools program was riddled with rules for teachers and students about how to address their students.

Ms Francis said the material actively instructs on how to negotiate the minefield of contested gender theory, warning “Phrases like ‘ladies and gentlemen’ or ‘boys and girls’ should be avoided.”

It goes on to say using the wrong pronoun that does not match a person’s gender identify is called ‘misgendering’.” (Page 52 of All of Us, Safe Schools Resource).

Lesson four in ‘All of Us’, a Safe Schools teaching resource that includes student handouts and classroom activities, states that “Everyone has their own gender identity in relation to masculinity and femininity. Some identify with both, and some don't identify with either; it's up to the individual to describe what gender identity fits them best.”

“Safe Schools really needs to come clean about what they are teaching teachers and students,” Ms Francis said.

“It is clear that Safe Schools material is being implemented by Cheltenham Girls Schools in Sydney and other schools that have signed up to the program.”

Joe Carolan, a former maths teacher at Wollongong High Schools, knows first-hand the way that Safe Schools confuses students. He believes banning ‘hetronormative’ language such as ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ is just the start.

The Safe Schools material goes on to say: “Where possible, avoid using gendered terms. For example, use words like ‘workforce’ instead of ‘manpower’, and ‘police officer’ instead of ‘policeman’. Phrases like ‘ladies and gentlemen’ or ‘boys and girls’ should be avoided. When speaking about individuals, be sure you know and use their preferred pronoun (she, he, they). If unknown, ask that person, or use their name instead.

“It's ok to ask people about their preferred use of pronouns. Where possible, ask privately. Some people use gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ (singular) or ‘ze’, while others use no pronoun or may wish to be addressed by their name only. It is important not to make assumptions about people’s gender identity and to be respectful when using pronouns.”

Ms Francis said State governments needed to work alongside parents to ensure that their children are safe from programs that had questionable sexualised and age-inappropriate content.

“Making secret the names of the schools that are using the Safe Schools material, as has occurred in Queensland and NSW, is clearly not the way to reassure parents and the community that the Safe Schools program is safe and above board,” Ms Francis said.

“The ACL congratulates Epping Liberal MP Damien Tudehope for speaking out on behalf of students who were being ostracised for not taking part in Safe Schools or rainbow activism.”

“Parents across the country are looking for leadership on this issue from our politicians.”

ENDS

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