Sex Ed in Schools Needs to Go Both Ways

by jillst


What up reader (I’m assuming there’s just the one of you),

Today I found an old rant I wrote something like two years ago about the Safe Schools program. At the time, I figured, “this controversy is not sticking around, it will surely be gone within the week. No point publishing this thing.” Oh, fool I was. In fact, the DT published a think piece about it literally yesterday. So I figured, what does the internet need? More people loudly giving their opinion. So here is mine.

In other news, I am considering changing the title of this blog to The Christian Complaints Corner, because that is realistically what it is now.

So get in your time machine, head back to 2015, and here we go:

A few weeks ago, the saints of Summer Hill Anglican Church were pissed – and they weren’t alone. Christians at every corner of the Australian internet threw up their collective arms. And not in bizarre rapture at the latest Hillsong lyric.

Some hateful group who didn’t understand us had complained to the education minister, and he’d removed three of our most sacred texts from the approved list of books that could be used as part of school scripture.

Such fundamentally important titles as You by Michael Jensen (son of one of the JENSEN BROTHERS NO LESS) and A Sneaking Suspicion by John Dickson (he was on TV! He’s an institution! HE WAS IN A BAND!) were banned from being taught in school scripture due to their absolutely, profoundly ridiculous ideas about sex (according to Hateful Group).

The other book was by a lady called Dr Patricia Weeratonge, who I won’t make fun of because she’s a kickass older gal who loves to talk frankly to boring conservative ladies about sex and sexual pleasure. She is literally my hero in every sense of the word. #bosschristianladies

Now, in case you slept through the whole Jonas Brothers promise ring fiasco*, you know that Christians believe that you shouldn’t have sex before you get married. I’d like to add a personal clarification that Christians believe this equally for both genders.

These three books all said as much. Hateful Group (TM) said as much. They made sweeping generalisations and took sections out of context. The books we banned with an upset flourish.

Eventually, following a lot of letter writing and harumphing, the first two books were re-instated. The third one was never even on the curriculum to begin with – I guess everyone just wanted to read it because Patricia is SUCH A BOSS.

In case you’ve slept through the last five or so years of same sex marriage debate, you’ll know that in addition to being anti-fun before marriage, lots of Christians further believe that they only marriage appropriate for Christian believers is a heterosexual one. A further subset of Christians believe that because they believe it, the rest of the country should believe it to.

This subset set up a group called the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), and they’ve finally annoyed me enough that I’m getting around to writing about them. The ACL have (wait for it) set out to ban some literature being taught in schools because it contradicts their views about sex.

I should say that, as far as I can find, the ACL haven’t publicly commented on the book banning scandal – it’s possible that they’ve never even heard about it. But the timing is just too good.

I say this to indicate that I did try to give the ACL the benefit of the doubt. It seemed pretty unlikely that the Safe Schools lobby was showing actual gay porn, which is how ACL made the whole thing sound, but hey – it’s always worth checking. Wouldn’t want to miss the scoop where kids got shown gay porn.

So I went on to the Safe Schools website and read the information packs they’ve put together for queer teenagers and their friends.

And they’re great.

Seriously. They’re really good.

Sure, the packs are called OMG, but I doubt that’s the ACL’s main issue. I doubt that but, honestly, I don’t know what the ACL’s main issue actually is. The brochure for friends of queer kids, for example, defines a bunch of words like ‘lesbian’ and ‘pansexual’ which I found very helpful and non-judgemental and sort of want to pass around to some of my more conservative friends all like “Here. Educate yourself.”

There’s a lot of personal stories from friends of queer kids, some facts and figures, and some real talk about what to do if your mate has a crush on you. I thought, ok, but maybe the one for queer kids is like FULL ON.

It wasn’t.

It was pretty much the same. Tom Tilley wrote a thing and it was adorable. There were numbers in the back where queer kids could call and get help.

The end.**

But hey. I love Jesus. I follow his ideas about sex. Why do I care?

Honestly, I think the Safe Schools Program said it best in their own literature:

“In your school, youth group, church, sports team, and even home life, chances are someone is attracted to people of the same sex.”

It’s true whether the ACL like it or not.

I’m not saying that the ACL shouldn’t voice its opinions on things it doesn’t like – we live in a democracy. But there’s just plain no need to oppose literature designed to teach kids not to bully people who are same sex attracted.

Further, there’s no need to try and keep Christian kids in the dark about the fact that people have varying sexual and gender identities – they will find that out as they grow up. Maybe someone they know and love is gay, or maybe they themselves are gay. It happens.

When the time comes, they should be equipped with the secular knowledge to discuss these facts appropriately, coupled with an overflow of Christian love to treat that person compassionately. To do otherwise would be illogical. I don’t stop talking to my friends every time they sleep with someone of the opposite gender.

We need to stop being afraid of what accepting difference might do to our kids and start figuring out how to accept difference without accepting sin.

Otherwise, we’re just going to continue to be someone else’s Hateful Group (TM).

*I still don’t understand why Christian teenagers need or want promise rings. If you are a teenager who’s decided not to have sex, you remember. Trust me. You know.

**I’ve just had a look, and it’s true that since I wrote this Safe Schools has put out a bunch of new material. I looked through most of it and would summarise it as follows: lots of LGBT kids get bullied at school, so lets try and be nice to people by letting people wear what they want to the formal and not being a dick to the transgender kid.