A peaceful and respectful protest about the ACT government’s new Safe Schools program was overwhelmed on Saturday as counter-protestors shouted slogans to prevent the speakers being heard and blocking their faces with placards to intimidate them and screen them from view. Police did not attempt to separate the two groups. 

When counter-demonstrators shut down a peaceful assembly by not allowing speakers to be heard, and by screening the speakers’ faces from public view, there is a serious violation by the counter demonstrators of the rights of those who assembled, and by the authorities for their failure to intervene to allow their peaceful assembly to proceed. It is a particularly serious violation when the assembly included a democratically elected representative (in this case the Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC) among its speakers. Once again, basic democratic rights of freedom of speech and assembly were effectively eradicated by LGBT activists. 

Although I was there to protest against the Safe Schools program, when the dust finally settled, I was able to chat with some of the rainbow activists and found that we actually agree about a lot of things.

We agree that Safe Schools teaches queer theory and that queer theory sees every type of sexuality as normal and good. We agree that we live in a culture that assumes heterosexuality is normal, just because most people are heterosexual. (They call this “heteronormativity”).  We agree that Safe Schools aims to get rid of heteronormativity, so that everyone can explore different sexual orientations until they find one that fits. Queer theory doesn’t say heterosexuality is not good. It just sees heterosexuality as one option in a whole range of equally good possibilities. Queer theory does not regard heterosexuality as normal.

Not having children themselves, the young people I met wanted to know “why shouldn’t we teach queer theory to kids?” I’m interested to know how Canberra’s parents would answer this question. Andrew Barr has pledged $100,000 in tax payer funds to ensure Safe Schools will support your kids through the dicey business of working out which of the dizzying array of sexual orientations and gender identities suits them best. When your kids have worked this out, Safe Schools will encourage them to “come out” and celebrate their “true identity”.

At the moment, Safe Schools doesn’t seem to encourage heterosexual kids to come out and celebrate their heterosexuality. This surely means the program is guilty of communicating a “homonormative” world view. We could fix that, perhaps by adding an “H” to the LGBTQ acronym, so that heterosexual kids can be celebrated too. If we think schools should be supporting kids to explore their sexuality, surely we need that to include all kids ...?

Before we start teaching queer theory to children, let’s back up a bit and ask these questions: do we all agree that schools should be supporting kids to explore, advertise and celebrate their sexuality? How are kids going to work out if they are bisexual, gay, lesbian, queer or straight? Does the exploration of sexuality make schools safer for kids?  Is it unreasonable for parents to voice concerns about this? Apparently (and sadly, for those who value democracy), it was not acceptable for these questions to be voiced in public on Saturday.