You can’t stop the bullying of one group by bullying another
It takes guts to stand out from the crowd. Whether it be the prophet Daniel in the Old Testament, Stephen the first martyr in the New Testament, or a teenage school girl who dares to defy the “expectation” of her school principal that all students show their support of the homosexual lifestyle on Wear It Purple Day, it takes real guts to stand out from the crowd.
On Saturday morning, August 22, 2015, I received an email from a parent of a student at Burwood Girls High School in Sydney. Attached was the official flyer stating that on the Friday of the coming week classes for all years would be cancelled and all students were instructed to attend the screening of Gaybybaby, a documentary about gay parenting. This had precious little to do with education – it was more about enforcing compliance with a worldview that is radically different from the Christian one.
Not only were all students told to attend but they were also encouraged to wear purple clothing (jewellery, ribbons, scarves and the like), as well as eat specially prepared purple cup cakes and then participate in a parade under the rainbow flag. Initially there was no option for children to “opt out” – a stark contrast with the Scripture seminars held once a term, for which students specifically have to “opt in”.
One girl was in tears, pleading with her parents not to say anything to the school because of possible negative repercussions.
Later the school did send out another communication saying that children could “opt out” – however, that was only for viewing the film, and not participation in the rest of the day.
Presumably all involved in our schooling system have the noble intention of wanting to stop any harassment of students at school, including those who might come from a same-sex family. Christians too should seek to prevent bullying or vilifying others whenever we see it. The problem is that, ironically, the school was intimidating an even greater number of people than they were trying to protect. Tolerance cannot be created by enforcing acceptance – that only leads to tyranny.
A number of parents contacted a variety of community leaders to express their deep concern over being compelled to take part all the activities of the Wear it Purple Day, even though they themselves had a conflicted conscience regarding the issue. At the heart of the matter was how they would be perceived and possibly even treated by their peers, as well as some of the teachers in the school.
I was interviewed on the current affairs television program The Project. Afterwards, one of the presenters said that according to the school no parent had formally complained about the planned events. However, as the Department of Education now acknowledges, a number of complaints were received.
Further, on August 24, Burwood Presbyterian minister David Maher called a meeting of some 15 parents and members of the community who were concerned.
Out of this meeting a letter was written on behalf of the group, expressing its concerns. These parents felt compelled to raise the issue with community leaders outside the school because they feared that their children would be looked down upon and socially excluded by their peers and even some of their teachers if they complained direct to the school authorities.
The whole episode was surely a traumatic thing for a teenage girl to go through. In fact, one of the girls we spoke to was in tears, pleading with her parents not to say anything to the school because of possible negative repercussions.
There is actually a much larger political power play happening here behind the scenes. This was not primarily about Burwood Girls High School even though the makers of the film were originally from there. There is a homosexual political lobby group that goes under the innocuous name of the Safe Schools Coalition. It actively encourages students to engage in cross dressing (e.g. a boy to wear a girl’s school uniform) as well as other forms of non-heterosexual practices. Currently they have at least 87 schools across NSW signed up, from Narrabri to Homebush.
At first I was concerned only about the girls who didn’t want to attend because of the conflicted situation in which the school principal had put them. However, the issue is not merely a local one. By allowing the Safe Schools Coalition to operate in our schools, the Department of Education is in direct contradiction of its own guidelines.
Let me just briefly relay the pertinent parts of the Department’s own guidelines. In the section entitled “Controversial Issues”, it says: 1.1 Schools are neutral grounds for rational discourse and objective study. They are not arenas for opposing political views or ideologies.
Note in particular that schools are not arenas for opposing political views or ideologies. The larger question that has to be asked then is how can the government, and in particular Adrian Piccoli (the NSW Minister for Education) allow this controversial homosexual lobby group to continue to explicitly propagate its ideological agenda in institutions that are supposed politically neutral?
One of my colleagues summed this up well: “This is about the intimidation of impressionable and vulnerable children in your school.” Trying to stamp out the perceived bullying of one particular minority group by enforcing compliance with a different worldview is just another form of bullying.
What the new more aggressive and angry atheistic secularism fails to understand and what the Bible gloriously declares is that we need something – or, more to the point, Someone – greater than ourselves to liberate us from our own intolerance.
Why do we bully each other, even if we are of the same nationality, gender or sexual orientation? It’s because we’ve first bullied God! We’ve rejected our Maker and in so doing have become estranged from each other as well. It is only through the death and resurrection of Christ that we can be truly made whole. Being merely, or even intensely, religious – or intensely irreligious for that matter – will not fix this. In fact it will only make it worse! What Jesus offers is something radically different. Jesus offers us reconciliation. Jesus offers forgiveness. Jesus offers wholeness. Jesus offers hope. It’s faith in Jesus that creates true love – and not mere tolerance – because only Jesus has the power to save us from ourselves.
Mark Powell, from Cornerstone, Strathfield, was much involved in the recent debate in NSW about homosexual propaganda in schools.