Queensland education minister Grace Grace has hit out at the state LNP opposition for calling a resource teaching high school students about gender diversity “sinister and destructive”.
The Courier-Mail reported last month that Mitchelton State High School has been using the “Genderbread Person” resource as part of its health studies curriculum.
The resource explains gender is not just divided into “man” and “woman” but has several variations, and teaches the difference between biological sex and gender identity.
“Gender is one of those things everyone thinks they understand, but most people don’t,” the resource says.
“It’s not either/or. In many cases, it’s both/and. A bit of this, a dash of that.”
Kawana LNP MP Jarrod Bleijie told parliament the resource “teaches kids that their gender is fluid and can change at any time of the day depending on what they want to be” and called for the government to ban it.
“Will the [education minister] rule out teaching kids to shift genders and get this sinister and destructive social engineering program out of our schools today?” he said.
Grace Grace told parliament the Queensland government “wants schools that are safe learning environments for all our students regardless of their gender, race, ability, appearance and sexual identity.”
“Every day state schools respond to the individual needs of their students by creating those inclusive and supportive communities to ensure the students can access a quality education,” she said.
“There are many students in schools today who do not identify as cisgender. As alarming as that may be to those opposite, that is the reality.”
Grace said the “local school communities, parents, teachers and principals” were best placed to decide what materials were appropriate for their students.
“Mitchelton State High School is an independent public school that is making local decisions in relation to sensitive issues for the students at that school,” she said.
“When it comes to this issue, there are no mandated materials in schools… This is but one tool that one school has used in relation to this matter—and it is an independent public school at that.”
Grace called for “respectful and proper” discussion of the issue.
“When we hear the Leader of the Opposition using words such as ‘indoctrinate’, ‘gender identity can change a dozen times a day’—what rot—‘brainwashing’, ‘confused’, ‘bizarre gender theories’ and ‘this is disgusting’ she has put the plight of students who do not identify as cisgender back 100 years,” she said.
“It is disgusting that that is said for all those parents like me who have children who do not identify as cisgender.”
Last month, Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington described the Genderbread Person resource as “disgusting” and said “it shouldn’t be taught in our schools.”
“If a child was confused enough about their sexuality beforehand, they would be more so after looking at this program,” she said last month.
An Education Department spokesperson last month told AAP Mitchelton High parents were given the choice to opt their children out of studying that curriculum at the start of term.
“Mitchelton State High School uses the Genderbread Person resource as one small component of Resilient Individuals who Strive for Excellence (RISE), a program that focuses on student wellbeing, including social and emotional learning,” a spokesperson said.
Frecklington came under criticism from LGBTIQ advocates last month for calling non-binary birth certificates for intersex Queenslanders “political correctness gone mad”.
“State governments should be about delivery not social engineering… the thought police have gone way too far this time,” she told The Courier-Mail.
“These are official government records, you can only be born male or female.”
Close to 2 per cent of all people are born intersex – the “I” in “LGBTI” – meaning they have internal or external sex anatomy that doesn’t fit typical definitions of “male” or “female”.
Trans Health Australia board member and Brisbane Anglican priest Jo Inkpin called for an end to the demonisation of transgender and gender diverse people.
“It is time that gender diversity stopped being a political or religious football,” she said.
“Everyone needs the right to affirm their authentic identity and to be supported in it.”