By Kitty Turpin
Since it surfaced the Safe Schools Program has been protested, debated and scrutinised. But what exactly is the Safe Schools Program? Oscar Kaspi-Crutchett is a 15-year-old Year 10 student and the Member for Perth in the Youth Parliament of WA. He is involved in political activism and campaigning for the program. However his support for the program isn’t political: it’s moral. Having experienced bullying during his time at school, Oscar believes the program will teach what needs to be taught, and say what needs to be said, to reduce attitudes of homophobia and transphobia, making schools safer for thousands of students across the country.
What is the Safe Schools Program? – Who created it and what is it trying to achieve?
The Safe Schools Program is the first ever government funded program with the intention of making schools safer and more supportive of LGBT students. It was created by academics and activists, including Roz Ward. The SSC [Safe Schools Coalition] wants to achieve the reality of a safe education for all people. We do not have that at the moment in this country. We have education which is long, drawn out and torturous for some. Intersex, transgender and same sex attracted students endure bullying and exclusion to the point of suicide in many instances. Safe Schools stands up to this, and says we can do better.
Why are some upset about it? Has an alternative been presented?
Backlash and outcry against safe schools comes from two particular attitudes: Queerphobia and red-phobia. The right wing media and right wing politicians attack the program because they are either against Queer rights all together or because they believe it is some kind of far-left communist conspiracy. Some people find the content of the program itself to be offensive or obscene, but this usually derives from attitudes of homophobia and transphobia, because the content itself is not arbitrary or negative. It’s not a manifestation of Marxism and it’s not going to turn your children gay. As aforementioned, the program is the only government funded NGO which actively fights for LGBT+ Students. As of now there is no alternative. If it were to be scrapped the gap it would leave would remain unfilled (at least under a Liberal government).
What would the implementation of the Safe Schools Program across Australia mean? – What would it mean for you, other high school students, primary school students, and future students?
Further extending the reach of this program, as some are proposing in the Labor Party and the Greens, would be beneficial to students across the country. As of now Safe Schools operates across hundreds of schools, and counting, but it still could be much larger. If the program was to be implemented even further it would help protect students from bullying and from mental illness – defending our youth from these two things would only help us as a society. Safe schools would help me, because I would feel safer in my school. It would help my friends, who’d feel safer too and it would help the entire education system in general. Everyone, from primary school students to parents would feel like the education system is a safer and more accommodating place for them. I am lucky because I always had a supportive safety net of family and friends but not everyone has that, some of the most vulnerable people in the community have nothing. This is especially prevalent in the LGBT community. The SSC stands up for them. It saves them.