6th September 2021 – Equality Australia has today called on the NSW state government and opposition to categorically reject the report of the Parliamentary Education Committee into One Nation’s proposed amendment to education legislation, saying many of the proposals are likely unlawful, and a direct attack on the safety of trans and gender diverse young people in schools.
The report – opposed by committee members Anthony D’Adam (Labor) and David Shoebridge (Greens) – recommends policy changes that would prohibit students from confidentially coming out as transgender to their teachers or school counsellors, ban trans students from participating in high school sports teams that align with their gender, require trans girls to undergo full medical transition to be able to use female toilets, and require parental consent for any discussion of matters concerning gender or sexuality.
“We already know that almost one in every two trans and gender diverse young people will attempt to take their own life, and many are subject to bullying and unfair treatment at school. If these policies were implemented, they would make schools even less safe and place trans students’ lives at risk,” said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.
“Many LGBTIQ+ young people don’t grow up in supportive households, that affirm and accept them for who they are, so it is vitally important to their wellbeing that they are able to safely and confidentially disclose to a school counsellor or teacher if they are questioning their gender or sexuality.”
Equality Australia also raised questions about the legitimacy of the committee process and report, noting that as Chair of the committee, One Nation’s Mark Latham became the arbiter of his own inquiry.
Despite submissions to the inquiry in opposition to the One Nation bill outnumbering those in support two-to-one, the committee voted in its deliberations to exclude significant evidence in opposition to One Nation’s proposal. This evidence includes academic research on parental and student attitudes to the teaching of LGBTIQ+ issues, the health impacts of attacks on trans and gender diverse people, evidence from Intersex Human Rights Australia on problems with the Bill for intersex people, and the importance of supportive environments to the health and welfare of all students.
Over two days of hearings, the Committee only heard from one trans or gender diverse witness.
“Under the guise of a discussion of parental rights and education, Mark Latham has orchestrated a dangerous and irresponsible airing of anti-trans views, and now proposes to amend policies to put the lives of trans and gender diverse youth at risk. If put in place, these policies would be a dereliction of the duty of care that schools owe to their students, and inconsistent with their legal obligations under federal and NSW anti-discrimination laws, said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.
“Every student in NSW should have the opportunity to reach their potential, to learn with their peers, and feel a sense of belonging in their school. The Government must stand up to One Nation and disregard the recommendations of this report. We call on the NSW Parliament to stand together to protect the lives of trans and gender diverse young people by voting this bill down”.
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