Well, it lasted a whole two weeks, but the Salvation Army has released a statement of national direction about Safe Schools programs, returning to being staunchly against the programs and destroying any glimmer of hope that they *may* give a shit about LGBTQIA+ communities.
Members of the Salvos were dubious and ticked off when the Victorian arm of the group made a statement supporting the anti-bullying program last month.
The statement noted that the negative claims against the program are ‘unfounded’, and Dr. Geoff Webb, chair of Salvos Victorian State Council, deemed there was zero issue with the program.
“Provided schools adhere to official teaching resources and the official guidelines, there should be no issues with Safe Schools. We support the provision of safe learning environments for all students,” Webb says.
It was pretty groundbreaking for the Salvos to support something that actually has the possibility of helping and supporting LGBTQIA+ people, considering the Salvationists’ opinions of LGBTQIA+ communities have always been less than desirable.
Now the Salvos have published a national position on the Safe Schools program, and the Victorian statement has ~mysteriously disappeared~.
“There are many accounts of marginalised students benefiting from aspects of the Safe Schools programs which have resulted in a safer, more caring culture forming in those schools. In this regard, we recognise the program’s intent to address bullying.”
“Whilst acknowledging such positive outcomes, The Salvation Army cannot unconditionally support the Safe Schools programs in Australia in their current form. We believe there needs to be consideration and refinement to the scope and form of implementation.”
But, because the Internet never forgets, you can check out the Victorian council’s statement here.
Whether Dr. Webb will make comment on the national direction of the Salvos is yet to be seen. Bruce Redman, the group’s national media director, spoke to The Australian and claimed that the Salvos don’t support the program because it’s not consistent in its implementation from state to state.
“In Queensland, for example, parents are very much involved, and they can choose to opt in or opt out,” Dr Redman tells The Australian.
“But to issue a blanket edict and say, ‘everyone’s involved … we’re just going to deliver the program’. That probably needs to be looked at.”
The backflip comes barely 10 days after the passing of Tyrone Unsworth, who was subjected to bullying at school because of his sexuality.
But no, please, continue to argue about this program, stall its implementation further, and keep communicating to the younger generations that they’re not worth our care.
If you are in the LGBTQIA+ community, and you’re having a hard time – at any age – please know that there are people and services out there that can help you. You’re not alone in your struggles and there’s so many people that love you and have time for you. Your experiences and emotions are valid. You can chat to someone at BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636, or if you need information, head here.