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LGBTI Issues: Ultimate Support for a Simple Life

Andrea Dawkins

Andrea Dawkins  -  Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Tags: LGBTI, Teachers, Students, Education, Mental Health, Young People, Marriage Equality, Australian Christian Lobby, Religion, Safe Schools Program

Ms DAWKINS (Bass) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise tonight to respond to parliamentary secretary Mr Barnett's adjournment speech last evening on Safe Schools and his continued attack on LGBTI issues in this Parliament.  Just for the record the sections of the Safe Schools Program which the federal Government changed after the review will have no real affect on the delivery of the program in Tasmania.  The controversial material, mainly through links to other websites, are a feature of the free Internet and not a feature particular to the Safe Schools website, has not been used in Tasmania.

According to Mr Rodney Croome, in Tasmania federal Safe Schools funding is spent on a program that is more targeted.  The Safe Schools Program delivered through Working It Out in Tasmania offers a service where teachers who have questions around LGBTI students, and the best way to support them through the education system, can ask for support.  Having a student coming out or transitioning can be an enormous challenge for a school to manage.  They have to not only manage the emotional support for that student, but also the expectations of other students, their families and sometimes other teachers.  This can divert valuable time away from core teaching.  This is where the Safe Schools Program comes in.  The teacher is able to ask for resources and direction on how to best manage the situation to the benefit of all.  It is a farcical situation with the amount of energy spent on fighting this resource and what a complete waste of time it has become. 

If the federal Liberal Party is returned to office in July, and the plebiscite on marriage equality is launched, it is just a taste of what is to come.  Tiernan Brady, the architect of the Irish 'yes' vote, is now in Australia working on the marriage equality campaign.  From the Irish experience he learned most people do not have strong feelings either way and for that reason they voted yes.  Polling found that the biggest group of No voters were men aged 60 and over.  They managed their successful campaign by being respectful and personal.  Their Call Your Granny campaign urged people to have a quiet chat with older members of their families and to talk them about their LGBTI friends and what the opportunity to marry meant to them.  Also, to explain to them that the more people who marry actually strengthens the institution not weakens it.  The Yes campaign took the debate away from law, philosophy and religion and it succeeded.

The ACL would do well to learn from this.  Earlier this year a spokesperson from the ACL linked equal marriage and Safe Schools to unthinkable Nazi atrocities.  Using the Holocaust in this debate is exactly the kind of tactic to push people towards the Yes vote.  Hyperbolic vitriol in the name of religion only heightens how far certain groups with religious organisations have come from the message of love and acceptance Christianity once preached.

I think my role as a parent is to support my children through their lives.  Parenthood is a continuum not an imposition.  If my children wish to explore their sexuality that is entirely their own business.  They have the ability to test their boundaries as they see fit, always knowing that they have the unconditional support of both their parents.  Knowing that has given them the kind of freedom which, in this instance, has tipped them towards a pretty conservative lifestyle.  When there is ultimate support life is pretty simple.