Yesterday a group called STOP SAFE Schools Coalition posted this on their Facebook page.
That’s right, that’s a group of adults buying tickets to a same-sex gender diverse formal to stop LGBTI kids from being able to get a ticket. So far they’ve apparently bought 50 of the 500 tickets.
That follows on from a conservative campaign in the last week against the Safe Schools programme, a voluntary scheme that seeks to educate children in late primary and early high school about homosexuality and transsexuality. Some objections claim that teaching kids about LGBTI issues will “confuse” children. Others are offended at what they claim are efforts to “bully” heterosexual kids (apparently objecting to homophobic taunts is “reverse bullying”). Indeed the admins behind the “Stop Safe Schools Coalition” are now complaining that they’re also being bullied online.
This is the topsy-turvy world of Australia’s gay rights debate, where people who oppose a program called “Safe Schools” are victims of bullying, and heterosexuals are oppressed by the mere discussion of homosexuality. It’d be absurd if the wider context wasn’t so tragic. Gay kids kill themselves at four times the national average, and up to 50% of trans people have actually attempted suicide.
Watch the incredible Cate Macgregor candidly talk to Mamamia about her experience. (Post continues after video.)
Watching this debate unfold, I recalled a recent conversation with a friend. He recounted to me an event at a Melbourne bar where he and his partner, standing waiting to order with their arms around one another’s backs, were approached by a gentleman. The man gestured to a couple of early primary school age kids at a nearby table and said “Excuse me fellas, I don’t want to be rude at all, but I was wondering could you not do THAT here?” The THAT in this case was being gay. The gentleman continued “I just don’t want to have to explain IT to the kids in the car on the way home. You understand.” He walked away. The real question, as it was put quite well by a friend of mine on Facebook is: “Forget who’s going to explain homosexuality to them, who’s going to tell those kids that their Dad is an arsehole?” Touché.
Moments like that happen all the time to gay people and the place we’re most likely to experience homophobia is at school (80% of gay people experience homophobia at school). Sometimes those moments are formally endorsed by educational bureaucracy, such as when all Catholic schools received “Don’t Mess With Marriage” pamphlets that attacked same-sex marriages.