The Victorian principal of one of only two Catholic schools to support the controversial Safe Schools coalition is refusing to bow to pressure to leave the group, reports the Herald Sun.
Paul Tobias, the head of St Joseph’s in Geelong, has written to both state and federal Education ministers backing funding of the program but advocating some changes, including less focus on the specifics of different sexualities.
He said the main aim of the anti-bullying program should be to encourage tolerance and respect of diversity, but it may have become sidetracked.
“I wonder sometimes as a consequence of trying to address and understand everyone on the LGBTI spectrum, and provide specific information about each, that the coalition provides critics with the perception that the original purpose of safe schools is being hijacked,” he wrote.
He said he was not using the entire curriculum but used it as a reference point for his school’s anti-homophobic bullying work.
The school is one of only two of Victoria’s 493 Catholic schools, and 1728 Australia-wide, that are members of the under siege coalition, whose program includes teaching children the meaning of terms such as “queer’’, “pansexual’’, “sister girl’’ and “trans guy”.
The program has also been criticised for role-playing lessons for 11-year-olds where half the students pretend they are 16 and dating the same sex; the others have a partner of the opposite sex.
Mr Tobias said he had been contacted by Catholics wanting him to pull his support, and had been involved in discussions with the Archdiocese.
“It’s a pretty hot place to be in the present moment,” he said.
Photo: Herald Sun