Joint public statement on Mark Latham's Education Bill

Posted on 18 Aug, 2020
Joint public statement on Mark Latham's Education Bill

A vast group of community and civil society partners and leaders in NSW are placing on the public record our strongest opposition to NSW One Nation’s Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020.

The legislation, introduced to the NSW Parliament by One Nation’s Mark Latham, aims to outlaw the teaching of gender diversity and the acknowledgement of trans and gender-diverse students and their families and seeks to strip professional accreditation from any teachers and school staff breaking such a law.

"It is vital that LGBTQI+ young people feel safe, supported and included at school," says Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Albert Kruger. "Mardi Gras stands against anti-LGBTIQ discrimination, and therefore wholeheartedly opposes this harmful and dangerous One Nation Bill."

The New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSWGLRL) has coordinated a Joint Public Statement in opposition to the Bill, fielding support from civil society organisations, including peak bodies, front lines services, unions, and community leaders in NSW.

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The full text of the statement is as follows:

This Bill is a serious and blatant attack on young people, their families, teachers, school staff and our communities. The Bill erases the very existence of trans children, encourages direct transphobia and positions intersex children as disordered in NSW. It deliberately targets trans and gender diverse kids within our classrooms during some of their most formative times in their lives. Despite the communities’ many strengths, we know that the heavy burden of discrimination and stigma experienced by the trans and gender diverse community will be increased substantially with such a Bill in NSW while doing nothing to reduce discrimination.

All students and their families across NSW must feel safe and supported at school. All teachers must feel safe and supported to practice professionally and personally.

There remains a vital need for work to continue to ensure the inclusion and safety of LGBTIQ+ young people in our school environments. The harmful and dangerous One Nation Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 does nothing but undermine the credibility of state government attempts to reduce bullying in our schools, to empower teachers and school staff on the front line, and to find a way forward in building more resilient school communities.

Discrimination, no matter the grounds, has harmful personal and economic effects on people. Successive national, and local level studies and a public non-binding postal survey have documented the burden associated with this discrimination, which exerts a significant toll on the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ people.

Discrimination should not remain pervasive in Australia.

Attacks on young people, teachers and school staff who support them in school settings have been based on scare campaigns and misleading information. Despite the alarmist headlines, we know that there is broad community support for the reduction of state sanctioned discrimination and the celebration of diversity.

We believe that in modern Australia, there is no place for putting teachers at risk of losing their right to work as a teacher, no place for prohibiting schools and school staff from teaching diversity and no place for shaming, stigmatising and silencing LGBTIQ+ children.

We call on the NSW Parliament to reject this Bill and caution them against introducing legislation that would hinder the personal expression of young people. We also caution the NSW Parliament against introducing a Bill that would not be compatible with existing anti-discrimination protections.

Fair access to quality education no matter what a person's identity or circumstance must come first. This Bill does the exact opposite.

Signed by: