Nearly four million people have seen the video of a Victorian mother of four talking about Safe Schools, and if you’re not one of them, then I recommend you take a look. Describing herself as “desperate,” the mother recorded a 14-minute video trying to encourage other Victorian parents to stand up against the deceptively-named program.
She begins by noting that the program was developed not by psychologists or educationalists, but rather by LGBTI activists, and comments that the program was never about bullying. This is hardly a bold claim, given that Safe Schools creator, Roz Ward, herself said the same thing at a presentation to principals and other school leaders a couple of years ago.
She explains that the program teaches gender theory, that is, that gender is not biological but rather a social construct, and that the kids are taught that there are 63 different genders.
It’s nothing new. Anyone who has been following the discussions around Safe Schools, even from a distance, would have heard this all before.
Given that, what made this mother’s story so attractive to make it resonate with so many people? There are a couple of reasons that I would suggest.
I think part of it has to do with how she found out about the program.
She tells a story about picking her 13-year old son up from school one day. He hopped into the car and explained to her that he had made a vagina that day in school in health class, and not as part of learning about anatomy or reproduction.
Shortly thereafter, he told her that his friend’s class was shown how to use a sex toy.
When she challenged the school, the welfare officer said that it was part of “safer options,” which accepted that tweens would be having sex, so the use of sex toys was a “safer” option to give them.
In a later video, the mother claims that the sex toy was actually part of the Safe Schools kit. This has not been refuted. Meanwhile, her young daughter was taught how to masturbate, and was then told not to talk about it outside of class.
I imagine that any parent of school-aged children watching the video would at least be a little curious to investigate whether her claims were true.
Irrespective of their views on gender theory or homosexual activity, I think that many parents would be concerned about their children being taught in such explicit detail.
Another reason I think it struck a chord was that the program was introduced without parental knowledge or consent.
Indeed, the mother explained, at her first encounter with the school principal, she was told that the Safe Schools program was not being used. It was only after she returned with a list from the Safe Schools website showing the school had signed up that the principal was prepared to engage.
“This was snuck into the curriculum. There’s no opt in. There’s no opt out,” she said. Usually, she explained, a note would be sent to parents about proposed sex education programs, with a brief outline of what her kids would be taught. The parental engagement was not part of the Safe Schools program.
She expressed succinctly what many parents would have been thinking: “This is about parents’ rights, bringing parents to the table, actually including us.”
Her striking story and the extraordinary response to it did not end with the viral video.
Earlier this week, the mother appeared on the Bolt Report, and was unable to use her real name because her concerns about becoming a target of the all-too-familiar attacks from LGBTI activists. While willing to appear on television, she didn’t want her name out there because of the nature of online attacks.
It didn’t make a difference. Jo Hirst, the author of The Gender Fairy, which is the picture book about gender transition promoted by Safe Schools, decided to “out” this mother on Twitter and post her name, information about her and various photos she could find. As this mum pointed out, it is a strange way for proponents of an anti-bullying program to behave.
She remains undeterred. If anything, the backlash has only appeared to strengthen her resolve. She posted a subsequent video saying: “Put me into whatever category you want, I don’t care,” she said. … You guys need to be on the back foot, not me.”
Her willingness to speak up has started a conversation in Victoria on an issue which appeared to have been deemed “settled” a long time ago, after Premier Daniel Andrews sought to roll Safe Schools out in all Victorian state schools.
I don’t know what happens next, but I imagine there will be a fair few more parents taking an active interest in what their child’s school is teaching (and a fair few more letters arriving in the offices of the Premier and the Minister for Education!)
It’s a reminder of what one, single, authentic voice can do. It gives us encouragement to continue to raise our voices even when we think the argument has already been lost.
And it provides a voice not only for parents, but for the millions of children being force-fed this rubbish in schools.