Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews’ plans to force the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria programme on to every government high school threatens the autonomy of principals and school communities, the Australian Christian Lobby has said.

ACL Victoria Director Dan Flynn said individual schools should retain the discretion to opt in to the Safe Schools programme or an alternative anti-bullying strategy.

“Not every school community wants to adopt the Safe Schools programme,” Mr Flynn said. “Some principals have adopted the system while many others prefer an alternative approach.”

Mr Flynn added that the Safe Schools programme was controversial and many parents were opposed to the messages it was sending.

“ACL strongly opposes bullying for any reason, but Safe Schools has the potential to increase gender confusion in young people,” Mr Flynn said. “Its promotional material includes an image of a boy wearing a dress. It wants to allow boys to use girls’ bathrooms and girls to use boys’ bathrooms.”

This is another concerning attack on school freedom, with the ALP also planning to introduce an “inherent requirements” test into the Equal Opportunity Act.

“The inherent requirements test would severely restrict the fundamental freedom of faith-based schools to appoint staff who uphold the ethos and character of the school,” Mr Flynn said.

“This policy has caused enormous concern among the community,” he said.

Mr Andrews’ announcement on the weekend also included a promise to appoint a dedicated commissioner for gender and sexuality and legalising same-sex adoption.

“The raft of policies announced by Mr Andrews on the weekend shows he has been captured by a radical agenda that tramples on the fundamental freedoms of others, including the school community,” Mr Flynn said.