In an interview with broadcaster Alan Jones on 2GB, Morrison agreed that a Victorian public school program aimed at reducing rates of family violence made his “skin curl”.
“Does this make your skin curl?,” Jones asked the Prime Minister. “That there are character cards under this [program] where young kids in schools, girls, Megan, we’re told that Megan is 17, she lives in the city and works in the local cafe. She’s had 15 sexual partners and describes herself as bisexual, and these girls in class are told to role model these particular people.”
“Year nine students are told to role play them and the teachers are given role-playing cards. Kelly is 14 and she’s interested in girls, she’s not sure but she thinks she might be a lesbian, and all of this is going on in the classroom. Is that going to happen in classrooms under your prime ministership?”
Morrison responded that programs like this was one of the reasons his children attended an independent Baptist school in Sydney.
"I don’t want the values of others being imposed on my children in my school and I don’t think that should be happening in a public school or a private school," he responded.
"That’s why I want to protect the independent schools to ensure they can continue on providing at least that choice... How about we just have state schools that focus on things like learning maths, learning science and learning English?"
"It’s not happening in the school I send my kids to and that’s one of the reasons I send them there."
But the PM may have got his wires crossed...
In response to Morrison's comments, the New South Wales Education Minister Rob Stokes told Fairfax that Morrison was criticising a Victorian Labor Government program which he mistakingly thought was taught in NSW.
The scenario mentioned by Jones is an optional part of Victoria's Respectful Relationships program. This program was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Debbie Ollis is the author of the Building Respectful Relationships material and an associate professor of education at Deakin University. She told Fairfax Morrison's comments showed he lacked understanding of what respectful relationships education is about.
"The resource comes out of concern about the prevalence and level of gender-based violence and family violence in the community," Dr Ollis said.
"This is about looking at issues around student safety and inclusion and providing them with a safe and supportive learning environment. If those things aren't addressed, young people can't learn maths and science."