A Queensland Government petition has been created to support the Safe Schools program and counter a petition by the Australian Christian Lobby calling for the program’s suspension.
The voluntary Safe Schools program, run by the Safe Schools Coalition, was developed in response to schools’ requests for resources and assistance with promoting acceptance of LGBTI students.
But the anti-Safe Schools petition, created by the Australian Christian Lobby’s Wendy Francis, claims the program is “promoting inappropriate and dangerous information for our school children” and calls for an inquiry into the “radical” material.
The counter petition, created by Michael O’Brien and supported by Queensland MP Dr Steven Miles, says the program creates “safe and inclusive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and families.”
“The unwarranted attack on the program by the Australian Christian Lobby is driven by homophobia, paranoia, and confusion,” the petition reads.
“We need programs like Safe Schools that address bullying, homophobia and transphobia. We want all school children to be safe, happy and healthy and to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Last month Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ordered an independent review of the Safe Schools program after conservative outcry into its content. The review’s report was handed to the government late last week and are reportedly due to be made public soon.
More than 500 schools are involved with Safe Schools. The Guardian recently reported that since the announcement of the review 32 more schools had joined, and only one school has backed out.
The program has the support of 362 university academics, according to an open letter published on the Safe Schools Coalition’s website.
Hundreds have also rallied in Melbourne and Sydney to support Safe Schools.
A 13-year-old transgender boy who addressed the Melbourne rally last week said the program’s resources “helped me to discover that I am no different from my peers,” The Age reported.
“When I was in grade four, Safe Schools helped me because they talked to the teachers and gave Mum suggestions about how to handle any uncertain parents,” he said.
All Queensland residents are able to sign the petition supporting Safe Schools here.