A government-funded program that prevents homophobia and discrimination in schools has been gagged from speaking out in favour of same-sex marriage.( of course!)
The Abbott government has warned the Safe Schools Coalition – which aims to create a safe environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students – against commenting on the politically sensitive issue of gay marriage.
It is understood that concerns were raised with the Foundation for Young Australians, the program's national convenor, after Safe Schools Coalition Victoria told The Age last month that Catholic school principals should refrain from handing out anti-gay marriage leaflets from Archbishop Denis Hart.
A spokesman for federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the Safe Schools Coalition was established to work with participating schools to create "supportive and respectful environments for student learning"."It is not intended to be a media commentator."This is promoting having sex, promoting having different kinds of sex and it is not age appropriate," she said.
She called on the Abbott government to axe $8 million of federal funding for the program.
Ms Francis also raised concerns about the program's recommendation that transgender children use the bathroom of their choice.
She said parents should have to provide consent for their children to take part in the program, and be made aware of its contents.
Roz Ward, who has been co-ordinating the program since it began in Victoria in 2010, said the ACL's campaign was "extremely disappointing". She said its comments highlighted the importance of the program.
"Their comments are based on a complete misunderstanding of the program. We are extremely proud of the work that we have done in Victoria and the difference it has made to young people's lives."
Safe Schools Coalition Australia national program director Sally Richardson said there had been no change to media protocols.
"Safe Schools Coalition Australia has chosen not to comment on issues that fall outside the focus of our program. Our focus is on challenging the bullying and discrimination of the LGBTIQ community within the school setting."