WATERCOOLER: The pain of words when facing sexuality, gender
I HAVE good friends who came out as gay to our group when we left high school 20 years ago. I sometimes wondered why it took them almost six years to tell us - nothing changed as far as our friendship was concerned from knowing.
Reading some of the information contained within the Safe Schools curriculum that seems to have our politicians in a tizz though, perhaps there are a few clues - and for starters it's in everyday language.
Schoolyard gutter talk would always be about something being "So gay," or someone weak being "Like a poof."
And while it's just a throwaway line from a 14-year-old, it's only after reading the first sheet of information in the "All Of Us" lessons from the Safe Schools Coalition I pause to think how awful those lines must've made my friends feel. And not just once. Every day.
Everything they identified with is a word of degradation from the people they identified as allies. I feel truly awful in retrospect.
And then there's the person at my school who openly identified as transgender. They weren't a friend, and we weren't cruel enough to openly mock what was plainly different in a rural high school, but there are still jokes made behind backs. Others aren't so kind.
So when the conservatives dismisses transgender by quoting research stating "80% of people who report transgender feelings early in childhood deny having them later in life", I actually think they are disproving their own argument.
Because why, when not only your peers who don't understand your situation mock you, but the people entrusted with leading your country openly dismiss who you are, would you want to continue that everyday persecution?
Easier to just say "It's okay, I'm normal now," and everyone nods in agreeance - happy that you've been pigeonholed back into their binary idea of sexuality. Little wonder.
I'm glad my child will go to a school signed up to the Safe Schools program, and be educated about all types of sexuality and people who don't identify as the "norms."
While politicians argue whether children should be exposed to such concepts, it is because they weren't educated as such that we are still having the argument now.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE SAFE SCHOOLS PROGRAM?
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Keri Bristow: "My 10 year old daughter is in a same sex family. She understands more than most adults about LGBTIQ issues and why some parts of society is nasty to us.
"Although she is being brought up in a same sex family we have been careful not to push any of our preferences onto her, we often ask if she likes boys or girls and will she marry a boy or girl when she grows up, and she has always said she likes boys and that is perfectly fine.
"We often joke about which boys she likes and she gets all shy like a typical 10 year old,lol.
"I can tell you that there is no way that educating children on issues of diversity can in any way change their sexual orientation or whether they feel like they are a boy or a girl, it just doesn't happen, children know who they are very early and they just need to be told that if someone else beside you is different then thats ok.
"What has happened is we have raised a daughter who is secure that she is able to explore in her own mind how she feels as a girl and who she feels she is attracted to without pressure from society as to what is "seen" as accepted on not accepted.
"This is how we should be raising our children, and if parents will not talk to their kids about these sort of issues and instil in them that being different is ok, then a program like safe schools should be in place to do that for the sake of a safer more accepting future society."
Lachlan McKay: "I think it's great! Children should be brought up knowing that people of the LGBTI community are just the same as very one else."
Silvio Rodriguez: "I'm just glad we're home schooling. Schools have become ridiculous nowadays. So much red tape and propaganda it's a wonder how any kid grows up with a true sense of self."
Marty Watson: "It's only adults who are polarised by this. Children see everyone as who they are initially until adults impart their values on them."
David Symes: "Just teaching tolerance, respect and acceptance. Nothing wrong with that."
Stuart Everson: "Adults putting agendas onto kids. No wonder the public school system sucks."