A New Celebrity-Backed Safe Schools Alternative Is Copping Serious Flak

High-profile Australians including Troye Sivan, Missy Higgins, and Joel Creasey have co-signed an open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asking for a new anti-bullying program aimed at protecting LGBTIQ youth, but others have taken objection to the letter’s focus on “tolerance” over “acceptance.”

The letter, which comes after the Federal Government’s decision to cease funding for the Safe Schools program, asks Turnbull and Education Minister Simon Birmingham to implement a new platform that won’t be as “highly politicised and controversial.

“We wish not for controversy but for a program with a goal that everyone can agree on: an end to bullying and domestic violence in Australia.”
In an effort to side-step the criticisms hurled against Safe Schools, including furious claims that it was too heavily focused on ideology than actually stemming violence against kids, the new proposed measures focus on a “tolerance and mutual respect of LGBTI people.”
While the new proposal is obviously aimed at being a more palatable to conservative lawmakers who took umbrage with certain elements of the Safe School program, critics have already characterised the letter as a huge step backwards.
Activist and GetUp! communications director Sally Rugg has responded to the campaign by saying “1950s tolerance bullshit is offensive, completely tone-deaf and detrimental to the campaign.” Rugg also described the influence of “privileged, cisgender celebrities” in a program which would also cover vulnerable transgender children as “some Kendall Jenner bullshit.”

Rugg had previously summarised her take on the issue by saying ” [Safe Schools] is also there to make sure straight, cisgender kids understand that people with different sexualities and gender identities aren’t wrong or bad or lesser. Because they aren’t.”

Promoting “tolerance,” as the new campaign puts it, certainly doesn’t seem like it’s entirely in line with that goal.

Benjamin Riley, a Melbourne-based journo whose work focuses on queer issues, has also said the letter’s focus on tolerance “misses the mark” by “framing any other goal as ‘too radical’.”

That perspective has been mirrored, too.

You can check out the proposal in full, and have a look at the full list of big-name signatories, right HERE.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald / Change.org.
Photo: Emma McIntyre / Getty.