Gender theory is the latest trend in modern education. Once on the fringes of academic life, this radical theory is now being mainstreamed.

From early childhood to universities, our children are now being taught that their gender is just a ‘social construct’ and has no relevance to the biological sex they were ‘assigned at birth.’ Gender is just something you can choose, depending on how you feel and there is no right or wrong.

We can already see the implications of these ideas play out in the broader culture.
Facebook now has over 70 custom gender options you can choose from. Some retailers, like Target in the US, are now allowing people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

And words like ‘hetero-normativity’ and ‘cisgender’ are rapidly entering mainstream discourse.
This thinking has even prompted Pope Francis to speak recently out about the damaging effects of gender theory on human development, and stressing that ‘complementarity’ between the sexes is an integral part of God’s design.

Closer to home, we are seeing gender theory and associated concepts promoted through the innocuous sounding ‘Safe Schools’ Program. Marketed as an anti-bullying initiative aimed at stopping homophobic and transphobic bullying – something that everyone should support – its content reveals a far different agenda than its stated purpose.

For Safe Schools, there is only one acceptable point of view, where gender is fluid and sexuality should be explored at a young age. The content is heavily sexualised, political, non-inclusive, inappropriate for minors, and in many instances, is simply untrue. As a parent, I found this highly concerning.

Common sense would lead any reasonable adult to the conclusion that a program such as this does not have the best interests of children in mind. In fact, the creator of the program Roz Ward recently boasted it had nothing to do with stopping bullying, but was instead about promoting ‘gender and sexual diversity’.

In response to significant community concern, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently launched a review, which led to a significant rollback of some of the more extreme content. The program does however remain largely intact – it’s intended purpose remains , and so does its taxpayer funding from the Federal Government.
Since this review, two more similar programs have been reported in the media.

The first is aimed at preschoolers under the guise of ending domestic violence. Run by Early Childhood Australia, it would see toddlers taught about sex, sexuality and cross-dressing. Clare McHugh, a spokeswoman for the program, was reported as saying that children were “sexual beings” and needed to lose “rigid views of gender.”

Meanwhile in Victoria, students as young as 12 will study sexualised personal ads and write their own advertisements as part of the ‘Building Respectful Relationships’ program which also aims to combat domestic violence. This material also includes examples of inappropriate and explicit content.
This initiative was recently rolled out to after the Labor government banned religious education in State schools. One could be forgiven for thinking that the two decisions might be related.

With all this in mind, two underlying issues of significant concern exist.

The first is that ideologically-minded academics, politicians, and educators seem to think it is acceptable to introduce their radical world view to minors under the guise of seemingly virtuous initiatives, like ending domestic violence or stopping bullying.

The second and perhaps less apparent issue is that parents simply aren’t taking the same level of interest and involvement in their children’s education as they used to. It is one thing to be alarmed at the rise of seemingly ‘Trojan horse’ style programs, but responsibility must also lie with those complacent guardians who let them in.

I have always believed that parents are the primary educators of their children – something that is even recognised the Education Act. Unfortunately, with the busy pace of modern life, many parents have wholly outsourced this important responsibility to schools.

Personal development is an important part of a child’s education, and it is their formative school years which will shape them as adults. As the old Jesuit saying goes “give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.”

One of the most alarming things about programs like Safe Schools is that they are based on the assumption that is governments, teachers and academics who are best placed to instil morals, values, behaviours and beliefs in children – and that they know what is best.
This thinking is in direct conflict with the rights of parents.

It should be the role of governments and schools to act as support services for parents in this duty, giving them the liberty to raise their children with the values and attitudes that best represent their religious, cultural, and family needs.

We must all take action in this regard.

Parents need to take more of an interest in what their children are learning, teachers need to work more closely with parents, and governments need to stop funding and imposing radically partisan programs, instead, making policies that respect the rights of parents as the prime educators of their children.

We all grew up under an education system that allowed us to have a childhood – why on earth are we allowing others to deny our children the same?

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