South Australian secondary schools will be replacing the controversial Safe Schools program with a broader anti-bullying program in reaction to pushback from concerned parents.
After the federal government stopped funds for Safe Schools in October, it was up to state governments to decide whether they wanted to continue the program.
Labor governments in the ACT and Victoria continued their own versions of the program without the modifications put in place following a federal government review, while New South Wales and Tasmania decided to replace it. In Queensland, local schools have been allowed to continue the program, but have to find their own funds to do so.
Initially, South Australia instituted its own version of the program, but after pushback, they decided to adapt the program again to focus on a broader message.
MP Dennis Hood said that changing the program was an obvious choice in light of the feedback they received:
Our offices have been inundated with parents, grandparents and educators who did not want their children taught this theory in the classroom.
Opposition education spokesman John Gardener also welcomed the changes:
It (Labor’s current program) has got a very narrow focus in dealing with the particular needs of students identifying as LGBTI.
Now, students identifying as LGBTI are an important cohort that we need to look after, the statistics show that they are more vulnerable than the broader student cohort but they’re certainly not the only students who are suffering from bullying, and there are a whole range of reasons why students suffer from bullying in our schools.
The new program will focus not just on the bullying of LGBT students, but bullying overall, especially that which occurs online. This is a relief to many parents who were opposed to their children being taught radical gender theory.
The developments in South Australia demonstrate that parents raising their voices – and their concerns – really does have an impact on what gets taught in schools.