A desperate student has made a passionate plea for politicians to leave the Safe Schools anti-bullying program alone, warning it could drive “kids to kill themselves.”
9 News reports, during last night’s Q&A on the ABC, student Carter Smith stood up in defence of the program which aims to teach sexuality and gender diversity, after conservative MPs and senators sparked a review of the initiative.
The program will be amended, ‘toned down’ and only implemented in high schools.
“I think the problem is politicians are using young, innocent, in-pain children as political bullets. That is unacceptable,” Smith said.
“Kids are being hurt when they hear this entire debate about, ‘oh, well, no we can’t really talk about that, it’s not really safe’. It is still creating the idea that they are different, that they are wrong, that they are not accepted.
“That is driving kids to hurt themselves, that is driving kids to kill themselves.”
Energy and Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg said while he understood Smith’s concerns, he was not prepared to accept the loss of gender identification promoted in the Safe Schools program.
“The materials in the program say we shouldn’t use the terms ‘boys’ and ‘girls’, ‘ladies’ and ‘gentlemen’ anymore, we should use gender-neutral terms,” he said.
Writer and feminist Clementine Ford said the program should be mandatory.
“By teaching love, by teaching an embrace of diversity and by actually teaching that people come in all sorts of different kinds of packages and that there is nothing wrong with that,” she said.
Despite government changes to the program, Victoria has responded it will ignore any updates and implement the initiative without change, the ABC reports.
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