I was always taught that if something waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck...then it’s a duck.

In March 2018, the ACT Government unveiled its answer to the Safe Schools program, rebranded now as the Safe and Inclusive Schools Initiative.

The ACT Government has used $200,000 to fund the work of Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT) in overseeing and providing assistance to schools in “building school cultures where prejudice, discrimination, harassment or violence is unacceptable on the basis of gender presentation/identity, intersex status or sexual orientation.”

This proposition is self-evident: surely prejudice, discrimination, harassment or violence are not acceptable for any reason? Like its Victorian counterpart, however, this program proposes to deliver much more than is declared on the packaging.

The introductory documents for the Safe and Inclusive Schools Initiativestate categorically that it is different from the Safe Schools program. The basis for this assertion is never provided and an examination of the policy documents offers no further illumination. This is queer theory, rebranded and served up again for the consumption of schoolchildren. 

According to the ACT approach:

  • schools will not have to sign up to the program, because it will be available to everyone. But this means that – just as with Safe Schools – the extent to which the approach is implemented will differ from school to school and may be largely invisible to parents.
  • There is no ‘curriculum’. SHPFACT will merely put schools in touch with ‘quality materials’ for promoting the ‘inclusion’ of ‘sexual and gender diversity’. New materials are being produced all the time. But this means that – just as with Safe Schools – parents have no way of knowing what materials are being used in the school. It also means that SHPFACT, not the ACT Education and Training Directorate, is deciding what children need to learn about gender and sexual diversity and what constitutes ‘quality materials’.
  • The initiative is not mandatory. But– just as with Safe Schools – schools are softened up with a quick series of ‘stick’, ‘carrot’, ‘stick’, ‘carrot’ arguments to encourage compliance:
    • LGBTI youth will suffer if they don’t.
    • Schools can improve student wellbeing by promoting ‘inclusion’.
    • Schools have legislative, professional and ethical responsibilities to do this.
    • They can tick a box on their national curriculum compliance by going along.

The rebranding has done nothing to ameliorate the real problem shared equally by both initiatives: it gives schools an imprimatur to immerse children in queer theory through a comprehensive series of changes to school culture, practices and policed language (‘check your assumptions’).

In summary, the ACT Government has spent $200,000 taxpayer dollars buying a program that many ACT parents have already rejected once. The Safe and Inclusive Schools Initiative– like the Victorian Safe Schools program – promises to be ‘inclusive’ only of those who are prepared to abandon traditional views about sexuality and gender to embrace a Marxist worldview and value system.

It waddles like a duck, it quacks like a duck ... it’s a duck.