- Campaigners urge Australia’s New South Wales Parliament to reject ‘trans erasure’ bill.
A ‘dangerous’ education bill would see teachers in New South Wales, Australia face the sack if they told kids it is ok to be trans.
Now campaigners are mounting a joint fight against One Nation state politician, Mark Latham’s Education Amendment Bill. And they hope the state parliament will not only reject it but learn more about transgender kids and families in the process.
The One Nation party – an Australian right-wing populist party – has put forward the bill. It would ban schools from recognizing trans and non-binary students.
If it goes ahead, parents will be able to withdraw their children from any discussion of LGBT+ issues in school. Moreover, teachers who support trans kids or encourage other students to treat them with respect could face the sack.
The proposals have catapulted Latham – a former Australia Labor leader – back into the political limelight.
Eloise Brook of the Gender Centre said:
‘The bill would have a profoundly negative impact on trans youth health. Transgender children would struggle to access education safely in a way that every other New South Wales student receives.
‘It would give a green light to bullying, and it would increase demand on the state’s already overstretched mental health system.
‘What we are seeing currently being debated in Parliament is at odds with the reality of trans and gender diverse children and their families.’
‘No part of our culture is safe’
However Latham, who leads One Nation in New South Wales, said parents are ‘sick and tired of teachers and school counsellors telling their children that gender is a choice’.
During the bill’s second reading, he added:
‘If they can convince young people that things such as family and gender are socially constructed and that there is some kind of conspiracy to deny them their true identity, then no part of our culture is safe.’
Now the Gender Center has combined with another LGBT+ group – Just.Equal – to fight the proposals.
They hope to teach New South Wales politicians about the reality of trans and non-binary kids. They have launched a web form to help voters respond to parliament about the bill. And they are also running a petition.
Just.Equal’s Rodney Croome, said the New South Wales bill is also a national issue:
‘LGBTIQ+ people across Australia are worried bills like the one proposed in NSW may be introduced elsewhere.
‘We want to do all we can to support LGBTIQ+ communities in NSW stand against this discriminatory legislation so it won’t be enacted and so it won’t spread to other states and territories.
‘I urge everyone who wants to affirm trans and gender diverse people, and oppose the One Nation bill, to send an email and sign the petition.’
Does the bill stand a chance?
In reality, New South Wales politicians predict the bill – the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 – is unlikely to pass.
They hope the parliamentary committee examining it will uncover its implications, killing it off.
Meanwhile, One Nation only has two Members of the Legislative Council – so can’t force it through.
Incidentally, Latham was previously a political heavyweight in Australia. He was leader of the Australian Labor Party and the country’s Leader of the Opposition from December 2003 to January 2005.
However, he lost the 2004 federal election and quit politics shortly after.
He became a pundit but Australia’s Sky News fired him after a homophobic outburst on air. Talking about a video about feminism, he said it was ‘clear’ the student taking part was gay.
Meanwhile he reportedly backed same-sex marriage equality. But he bizarrely voted against it when Australia had a referendum on marriage equality.
Returning to politics after leaving Sky, he flirted with Liberal Democrat membership before joining One Nation.
Notably, his first speech in the New South Wales parliament defended Israel Folau over his anti-gay comments. Rugby Australia fired their star player after he commented on social media that ‘hell awaits homosexuals’.
Meanwhile, Latham’s former colleagues in Labor – in opposition in New South Wales – oppose his anti-trans bill.
However, Brook hopes some good can come out of Latham’s efforts. She said:
‘We would very much like for the NSW Parliament to emerge from this debate with a better understanding of our amazing transgender children and families.’