Former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has been urged to meet with transgender youth and their families after he said same-sex schools should be able to turn away trans students.
On Wednesday, the Nationals MP weighed in on the debate around legislation to prevent discrimination against LGBT students, telling Sky News any law change should not prevent schools from banning transgender children.
“If I send my child to an all-girls’ school, I don’t want the complication and the possibility – and they haven’t completely ruled it out – that if someone turns up and says, ‘I want to identify was a woman, I want to identify as a girl, I want to go into your bathrooms, I want to go into your change rooms, I want to be educated,’” Joyce said.
“That might be that person’s right and wish, but everybody else says, ‘Well, that’s an affront on our rights,’ and we want that issue deal with.
“We want it dealt with clearly so that we know that our rights are protected and other people’s rights are respected.
“You cannot send a student whose genetic make up is XY to a school established for people who are XX.
“It is not fair on the larger school unit that they have to change and accept all because of the desires of one.”
Joyce’s comments sparked outrage among the families of trans and gender diverse children, who have urged Joyce to meet with the children who are affected.
Jo Hirst, former primary school teacher and mum to a transgender child, told The New Daily Barnaby Joyce had “shown zero understanding or compassion for transgender students” and should resign.
“When a parent and a school support a trans child, it is on the advice of that child’s doctors and psychologists,” Ms Hirst said.
“We are doing what is in the best interest of that child’s academic and mental health outcomes.
“Many faith-based and independent schools understand this and are doing a great job of supporting transgender students.
“When we have a federal minister blatantly flouting the recommendations of our health professionals, and publicly shaming and disparaging our vulnerable kids, I think it’s time for our Prime Minister to step in and say enough is enough.”
— Jo Hirst (@thegenderfairy1) December 6, 2018
Rainbow Families Victoria director Felicity Marlowe said misinformation about trans youth was damaging, and urged Joyce to meet with the transgender students and their families.
Joyce’s comments on Wednesday evening came after a brutal day of debate about the passage of legislation to protect students from being expelled or rejected from religious schools on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack distanced himself from Joyce’s comments, telling Sky News he doesn’t want to see any child discriminated against.
“I think what Scott Morrison has put forward means that no child will be discriminated against,’’ he said.
But the amendments put forward by the Prime Minister were widely rejected on Wednesday by Labor, the Greens and others as a “Trojan horse” allowing more discrimination in schools, instead of less.
The months-long political deadlock between the Coalition and Labor has now delayed any action on the issue into the new year.