Tasmania recently escaped from same-sex marriage after a close vote in its upper house. One of the arguments used against its introduction was its radical impact upon the education system. Children would be taught that homosexuality is normal and natural as part of the curriculum.
Well, Tasmania’s Education Minister, Nick McKim, a member of the Greens, seems to have realised that he doesn’t need legalised same-sex marriage to do this. So he is pushing through a new relationships and sexuality education curriculum which will teach children that homosexuality is normal and natural and healthy. It will be rolled out in all Tasmanian schools by 2014.
He told the (Launceston) Examiner that teachers would be trained to feel more comfortable in talking about relationships and sexuality to their students:
“This will be everything from the nuts and bolts of sex through to the need to not only respect diversity but to actually celebrate diversity… Children need to develop responsible attitudes and behaviours so they can make informed decisions about sex and sexuality and develop respectful relationships. This will be age appropriate and developmentally appropriate education.”
Not much information seems to be available at this stage. However, the Department of Education’s glossy brochure says that it is working with “the Department of Health and Human Services and other key relationships and sexuality education stakeholders to carry out this important work”. One of these stakeholders seems to be gay rights activist Rodney Croome. He told The Examiner that he was delighted to see that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues had been included in the strategy.
Are parents also regarded as stakeholders? Will they have a chance to object? From what the Minister says and what the brochure says, it is unclear. What’s in store for them can be judged by reading a booklet on sex education written by Jenny Walsh of the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society at La Trobe University in Melbourne, “Talk Soon. Talk Often”. A Tasmanian edition is being prepared for Mr McKim’s constituents. This catechism of permissiveness contains gems like these:
Q. “What do young people need to know to decide about having sex?”
A. “Everyone has the right to decide what sexual behaviours they are happy to engage in, if any. They can also expect their friends and sexual partners to respect those decisions.”
Q. “How do you know you are ready for sex?”
A. “You know how to prevent a pregnancy from happening”
Q. What should I think if my child is gay?
A. “Later on, you may experience the joy of welcoming a same-sex partner into the family.”
If this is what happens in Mr McKim’s sandbox after he lost the debate on same-sex marriage, imagine what fun Tasmanian parents would have had if he had won!