A cross-party group of New South Wales MPs have called on the state Education Minister to reject anti-transgender education legislation from One Nation’s Mark Latham.
Mark Latham (above left) introduced the draft Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill last year, causing outrage.
Latham wants New South Wales to ban any “promotion” of diverse gender identities in schools and restrict support for transgender students.
If passed, the Bill would crack down on counsellors discussing gender identity with students.
Under the Bill, schools would have to out all trans and gender diverse students to their parents, and the parents of all other students in the same year group.
Latham’s proposal would also ban trans students from using toilets and change rooms in line with their gender identity.
And before any student could join an LGBTIQ support group at school, they would also need to out themselves to their parents to obtain consent, under the Bill.
A recent parliamentary committee, chaired by Latham himself, recommended the Bill be passed.
Fellow committee members Nationals MP Wes Fang, Liberal MPs Catherine Cusack and Scott Farlow and Labor MP Courtney Houssos also supported it.
Labor MP Anthony D’Adam and Greens MP David Shebridge were the only committee members to oppose it.
And just one trans person – health expert Teddy Cook – addressed the parliamentary inquiry. Cook’s moving speech to the committee went viral in April.
Neither the New South Wales Liberal government and Labor opposition have announced party positions on Latham’s proposal.
Cross-party group of MPs call for Mark Latham’s Bill to be scrapped
However this month a cross-party group of MPs signed a joint letter to NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell calling on her to reject it.
Independent MP Alex Greenwich (above right), Labor MP Penny Sharpe, Liberal MP Shayne Mallard, and also Greens MP Jenny Leong and Nationals MP Trevor Khan signed the letter.
“LGBTIQ students already experience disproportionately high rates of bullying and harassment,” they wrote.
“They experience higher rates of mental health issues than other students.
“[Trans people] aged 14-25 are fifteen times more likely to have attempted suicide compared to the general community.
“We’re concerned the proposed bill would make the situation for LGBTIQ students even more difficult.”
They wrote that significant evidence “shows that affirming young people in their identity can literally be life-saving.”
However Latham’s Bill would “remove all positive content on LGBTIQ+ people” from schools. It would also “hamper the ability of teachers to respond to bullying if parents object,” they wrote.
“It’s inconsistent with the duties of care that schools owe to their students, including under federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
“It is a dangerous proposal with risks making schools unsafe places for LGBTIQ+ students.
“We urge the government to reject it.”
Momentum is building on all sides of politics against One Nation’s anti-trans bill!🏳️⚧️
Thank you @AlexGreenwich, @PennySharpemlc, @jennyleong, @ShayneMallard, and @TrevorKhan1, for standing together with the LGBTIQ+ community to oppose One Nation’s education bill. pic.twitter.com/Vge1waX5k9
— Equality Australia 🌈 (@EqualityAu) September 15, 2021
One Nation Bill is Australia’s ‘most anti-LGBTIQ legislation this century’
LGBTIQ advocates say Mark Latham’s Bill is Australia’s “most anti-LGBTIQ piece of legislation this century”.
Just.equal has also likened it to Britain’s homophobic Thatcher-era Section 28 laws.
Equality Australia also said both the NSW government and the opposition must reject Latham’s draft legislation.
“Almost one in two trans young people will attempt to take their own life. Many are subject to bullying and unfair treatment at school,” CEO Anna Brown said.
“If these policies were implemented, they would make schools even less safe and place trans students’ lives at risk.
“Many LGBTIQ+ young people don’t grow up in supportive households, that affirm and accept them for who they are.
“So it’s vitally important they are able to safely and confidentially disclose to a school counsellor or teacher if they’re questioning their gender or sexuality.
“Under the guise of a discussion of parental rights and education, Mark Latham has orchestrated a dangerous and irresponsible airing of anti-trans views.
“[He] now proposes to amend policies to put the lives of trans and gender diverse youth at risk.”
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