One of the organisers behind a controversial letter calling for an alternative to the Safe Schools program has withdrawn the campaign and apologised to the LGBTI community.
The letter and accompanying petition, unveiled on Tuesday and apparently signed by local celebrities including Troye Sivan, Joel Creasey, Missy Higgins and Guy Pearce, called on the federal government to fund an anti-bullying and anti-domestic violence program as an alternative to the Safe Schools program.
But the letter was met with widespread condemnation from the LGBTI community, with many taking to social media to object to the letter’s use of the phrase “tolerance” instead of “acceptance”.
One of the campaign’s signatories, comedian Em Rusciano, wrote on Facebook she had only signed a petition supporting the Safe Schools program.
“I am devastated that my name is attached to this proposal as I feel it hurts the very people we are trying to protect,” she said.
On Wednesday organiser Ben Grubb claimed responsibility for the letter and issued an apology via website Medium, saying the campaign will be withdrawn and pulled from the Change.org website.
“One of the biggest mistakes I made – and it was made by me alone – was in the drafting of the letter, with the word ‘acceptance’ omitted from the framework proposed for teaching, and the letter referring to not seeking ‘approval’ of the way certain members of our society live,” Grubb wrote.
“Instead, the words ‘tolerance’ and ‘mutual respect’ were used. ‘Acceptance’ was removed during the drafting after confidentially consulting a Canberra decision-maker on what they believed the government would potentially back to fund such a program.
“I am sorry to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community, many of whom have told me that doing this represented the letter pandering to conservative views. I wish to unreservedly apologise to them.
“If anything good can come from this, it is my hope that LGBTI kids in Australia are looked after and that it starts a necessary conversation about what happens next for LGBTI youth and anti-bullying education in schools on a national basis.”