A group of transgender rights activists have interrupted a New South Wales parliamentary committee hearing to protest Mark Latham’s anti-trans education bill.
NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham has caused outrage with his proposed Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020.
Advocates warn the bill, if passed, would ban recognition of trans and gender diverse students at schools in the state.
A parliamentary committee is examining the bill, chaired by Latham himself. The committee began hearings on Tuesday.
A dozen protesters from Community Action for Rainbow Rights (CARR) attended and disrupted the proceedings.
“How dare you sit there and try to oversee the rolling back of our rights, rolling them back by decades, trying to attack the most vulnerable people in our society,” CARR co-convener April Holcombe said.
“Transgender young people [have] already got it tough enough.”
Holcombe blasted Latham as a “thug and a bigot” who only “represents a tiny minority of bigots in this society.”
“The vast majority of people want our school to be inclusive spaces,” Holcombe said.
“[They] don’t want teachers to have to turn around and worry about their own jobs, their own livelihoods, because of [this legislation].”
Mark Latham previously explained his bill, if passed, will “outlaw gender fluidity teaching, course development and teacher training”.
“The Parliament should legislate to defend the family unit and the biological science of gender,” he said.
The bill would amend the state’s Education Act to proclaim gender identity as “equivalent to a person’s biological sex”.
As well as teachers, it would also prevent other staff members, including counselors, from supporting trans and gender diverse students.
Anyone violating the ban would then face the sack under Latham’s proposed laws.
Transgender student blasts ‘bullying’ politicians at rally
Last weekend, Community Action for Rainbow Rights held a rally to oppose the bill in Sydney on Saturday.
Addressing the rally, a trans high school student blasted the “bullying” tactics of adult politicians in a powerful speech.
“This bill is pushing for the erasure of trans children and students. It’s hard enough for all students as it is and it’s even harder to be a trans student,” they said.
“We face bullying and isolation from our own peers, and now we have to face that from grown adults too.”
Non-binary NSW teacher Sam Guerra launched a Change.org petition opposing the bill that now has over 120,000 signatures.
“It is the responsibility of teachers and schools to create a safe space for all their students, no matter how they choose to identify.”
“No law should interfere with that.”
NSW government has yet to respond to Latham’s bill
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge has also criticised Mark Latham and the anti-trans legislation.
“[Latham] has made it clear that he wants to make political capital from marginalising some of the most marginal in our community,” he told the rally.
“That is a shameful abuse of his position as an MP.”
The NSW Liberal government has not yet indicated a position on Latham’s draft bill. NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said in a statement this week it “is not a government bill”.
“As with any bill from a private member, the NSW government will respond after careful deliberation to ensure all relevant legislation and protections are considered,” she said.
Meanwhile, a NSW parliamentary committee earlier endorsed Mark Latham’s separate religious freedom legislation, also sparking backlash.
Community Action for Rainbow Rights are also planning a Sydney rally against that legislation for June 5.
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