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'Yes, the LGBTI community has an agenda: To keep kids safe from bullying.'

Another day, another conservative politician making ignorant remarks about the LGBTI community.

Conservative Western Australian government backbencher Peter Abetz has reportedly labelled a new anti-bullying program “little more than a gay, lesbian, transgender lifestyle promotion program.” 

Abetz slammed the Safe Schools program — which is aimed at educating teachers about prejudice toward LGBTI students — as a product of the ‘militant gay lesbian lobby” in a private briefing to his Liberal colleagues in WA parliament, the West Australian reports.

Today, writer Lola Jennings-Edquist sets Mr Abetz straight.

Dear Mr Abetz,

The 1950s called, and they want their opinions back.

When the Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA) campaign was funded with an $8 million dollar grant to help fight bullying based on sexuality and gender, and educate Australia’s youth about LGBTI+ issues, you said some pretty darn silly stuff.

Why do I call it silly, you ask? Because, quite honestly, it was.

West Australian backbencher, Peter Abetz. Image via Facebook

When you used terms like “gay, lesbian, transgender lifestyle promotion program”, and “militant gay lesbian lobby”, you’re didn’t actually  convincing anyone that the SSCA was ‘really not an anti-bullying program’- all you did was convince us, the general public, that you’re a huge, out of date, bigot.

Related content: What’s that, hate-preacher? We can’t hear you!

You tried to claim that the SSCA had an ‘LGBTI’ agenda. And you are so right, they do.

Their agenda is not secret. It’s not ‘militant’; nor does it, as you so eloquently said, attempt to raise LGBTI+ students ‘to celebrity status’ or give them ‘special privileges’.

Their agenda is very plainly written on their website, and it seems incredibly reasonable:

“We are a dedicated to making schools safer and more inclusive for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse young people. We are creating change to ensure that every student and every teacher in every school has access to a safe and inclusive learning environment.”

That’s it. That’s their aim. Their big, bad, secretive, LGBTI agenda.

To make schools safer for students to whom it is not.

To teach other students- those you classed as normal when you referred to the rest of us as not being so- that LGBTI+ students exist too and don’t deserve bullying any more than anyone else.

“Just last year, BeyondBlue did a study which found that 80% of LGBTI+ students experienced bullying based on their gender or sexual orientation.”

When you mentioned those ‘special privileges’, Mr. Abetz, to which were you referring?

Was it the privilege of not being scared to move between classes? The privilege of being able to change for PE without someone saying- or doing- something to hurt you? The privilege of being able to hold your partner’s hand without fear?

Read more: We don’t need to remind gay students they’re different, they already know.

 Just last year, BeyondBlue did a study which found that 80% of LGBTI+ students experienced bullying based on their gender or sexual orientation. They are 6 times more likely to commit suicide than their ‘normal’ peers.

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When you said privileges, Mr. Abetz, did you mean the privilege basic safety? One that most students already have?

When you said ‘celebrity status’, did you mean students no longer feeling so ashamed and scared of who they are that they’re finally able to come out?

When you said any of the things you said, Mr. Abetz, did you actually look around you, and realise that most of Australia was about 60 years ahead of you?  Did you research anything? Did you bother to even ask a single LGBTI+ school kid whether they thought they needed something like this?

“That’s it. That’s their aim. Their big, bad, secretive, LGBTI agenda. To make schools safer for students to whom it is not.”

You argued, at one point, that:

“most people [in Australia] are quite tolerant. Most people know someone among their relatives or workmates who is a lesbian or gay or whatever, and they don’t bat an eyelid – they just accept them as human beings with inherent value and you treat them with dignity and respect.”

Related: ‘The TV scene that made me feel like I existed.

Again, sir, I have to question whether you actually bothered to research anything before you opened your mouth.

Most Australians are tolerant, apparently- yet, LGBTI+ people still can’t get married.

Related content: This Mardi Gras, let’s commit to end homophobia.

We still have people in power- people like you- who say we don’t deserve protection; because we have an agenda, or because we’re militant.

More than 60% of LGBTI+ youth will, at some point, engage in self harm or attempt suicide- that doesn’t scream of a country filled with tolerance to me.

(I’m not even going to go into the completely laughable idea that you tried to tell me that we as Australians accept others as ‘human beings with inherent value’ when we have people locked up and tortured. Seriously, dude- do you read the news? Or just old clippings you’ve saved from 1941?)

Lola (left) with her partner Penny.

I suppose I shouldn’t completely shut you down, though. You aren’t completely insane.

You did say, after all,  that ‘no one’ should have to tolerate bullying- and you’re right. I agree with you there- hooray!

Absolutely no one should have to tolerate bullies.

Not people with weight issues, or disabilities, or people of different races or religion. Not red-heads, not skinny kids, not gay ones.

No one should have to tolerate bullying, you said.

So how come you’re against something that would help fight it?

What do you think about Mr Abetz’ comments?

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