Posted on February 10, 2012

Sometimes I wonder whether I’m coming on a bit too strong. I consider whether all the sturm und drang I create over bullying and religion in schools is all a bit too much. Maybe I’m seeing menaces and creeps where there’s really nothing at all.

Then I come across something like ‘The homosexual “anti-bullying” program for schools: an unconscionable strategem.’, as published in the Australian Family Association‘s journal.

It’s a journal article that directly tackles efforts within Australian schools – Victorian schools, specifically – to stamp out, amongst other kinds, bullying based on sexuality. It seeks to reveal it as ‘unethical’, ‘unconstitutional’, ‘professionally fraudulent’ and ‘scientifically spurious’.

Of course,  as the author notes, ‘it is totally and unmistakeably clear that the bullying of a child on any grounds is reprehensible and must be stopped‘, yet he insists that this notion must be uncoupled from what he considers the ‘unconscionable’ practice of informing kids that it’s okay to accept themselves and each other, regardless of sexuality.

He commences the main body of the paper with a rather odd digression into homophobia, and how poor oppressed bigots are now the ones being marginalized and diagnosed with a disorder.

He then spends a number of paragraphs discussing the Abrahamic faith’s notion of the soul, how it is thought to resemble God and how the sexual acts of adultery, incest, bestiality and homosexuality tarnish it.

He states that while each of these acts have phenomena that drive people to do them, they do not constitute a ‘moral permission’. Just because the Encyclopaedia Brittanica back in the 1960s stated that many American farm boys had sexual relations with an animal, he argues, it doesn’t mean that bestiality is something to be encouraged.

Thus, his logic runs, while many people have homosexual urges, we should not encourage people to give in to them.

He cites Genesis 2:24 as his prime piece of evidence, his coup de grace – that God’s final ruling on the issue of sexuality was that man should, ‘…leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and become one flesh‘.

Our correspondent then attempts to argue that programs like the Safe Schools Coalition are unconstitutional. He states that any attempt to curb anti-gay bullying constitutes,’…a contradiction to the constitutional doctrine of this country.‘.

He takes separation of Church and State contained within our Constitution, and uses it to argue that any attempt to prevent religious persecution on  the grounds of sexuality to be a suppression of religious liberties.

Perhaps the most problematic, hateful and vile part of the article is when the author addresses what he calls the ‘professional & psychological impropriety‘ of the program.

He discusses the work of Evelyn Field, an expert on bullying whose philosophy on dealing with incidents of bullying is to ignore the issue at stake – obesity is an example he cites.

He then tries to uncouple the grounds for bullying from the emotions and morality behind it. Bullying itself, he believes is reprehensible. The emotions and beliefs behind it are not. In the author’s words, ‘The taunting and the bullying would be wrong. The grounds might have a moral content. Our civilization of thousands of years does not regard homosexual practice as normative, but as a moral wrong‘.

Our author believes that instead of helping children overcome bullying, GLBT antibullying projects can actually backfire. Here’s some gems that give an overview of his argument.

  • By calling on children to identify themselves sexually at young age (to lock themselves into a sexual identity in early or pre-adolescence), they seize upon an as yet fluid and unformed sexual identity.’
  • ‘The active acculturation of children – in an extremely fluid stage of their personal identity – into homosexuality is a profoundly disreputable professional practice.’
  • ‘The effect of this program is to cultivate homosexuality within a wide range of children who in the course of time and with the support of traditional values, could readily emerge from identity-uncertainty into traditional heterosexual roles.’
  • ‘The present program, working upon the fluid sexual identity of children, can only be to cultivate and extend homosexual conduct amongst many children who would otherwise be socialized into normal heterosexual conduct.’

Quite simply the author believes that these programmings are brainwashing kids gay

The author finishes his piece by stating that it is not the role of schools to try to interfere in the treatment of children with an illness. Homosexuality, you see, he believes is an illness.

He does this, in part, by citing the findings of the widely-discredited NARTH organization and essentially argues that rather than telling kids it’s okay to embrace who they are and how they feel, we should rather be trying to ‘cure’ them.

So, who is this author? A member of a fringe group? Someone involved in an extremist organization?

No, it’s Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen, of the Centre for Judaism and Civilization at Monash University. He’s the patron of the Australian Family Association, along with people like Margaret Court. He’s also the son of former Governor-General, Sir Zelman Cowen.

This organization is a powerful lobby group with the ear of government and the ability to make itself heard. It is a group that involves itself in the business of state, actively shaping policy.

It’s a group, yet again trying to force the most harmful aspects of religion into our state schools.

The Safe Schools Coalition that Dr Cowen so vehemently rails against is a world-class, world-reknowned experiment, a collection of schools actively and productively tackling homophobia. Kids aren’t being indoctrinated by ‘Big Gay’, they’re merely learning that it’s not cool to give someone a hard time based on who they love.

If you, like me, find it very troubling that people like Rabbi Dr Cowen are attempting to dismantle groups such as the Safe Schools Coalition, I encourage you to write to the Premier and let him know that this kind of rhetoric isn’t welcome when it comes to shaping educational policy.


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