Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The moral panic continues

Under the odd headline which seems to me to be somewhat of a failure if it's meant to conjure up moral outrage (Schools told to teach kids that sex varies like the weather), I see that The Australian, and some politicians, are doing their best to drum up a moral panic over the fact that some sex education material now refers to the (rather obviously true) fact that some people over their lifetime experience somewhat varying sexual preferences:
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli yesterday ordered his ­department to withdraw the ­sexual and gender diversity ­resource for teachers, which ­appears to have been heavily based on the Safe Schools program. Alerted to its existence by The Australian, he said he was “very angry” the resource had “got out”. “I have directed the ­department to take it down ­immediately and review the ­material and all links,” he said.
“Safe Schools materials are only to be used strictly in accordance with the revised guidelines established by the federal ­government. I am furious this policy has not been adhered to and have demanded a full explanation from the (departmental) secretary.”
Launched quietly this year, the 17-page teacher toolbox for delivering content relating to ­diversity of sex, sexuality and gender contains a list of resources the educators can refer to in their teachings. One recommended activity invites Year 10 students to consider a range of characters, such as “Joseph”, who is married with three children but “when he masturbates, fantasises only about men” and “is attracted to several of his male friends” and “Alex”, who had sex with girls as a teenager but developed a relationship with a man after moving to a country town.
Students are asked to determine each character’s sexuality and whether they fit into ­“traditional binary thinking” ­regarding sexuality.
Given that it's rather likely now that in any given school of significant size, there is going to at least one  kid who has a parent who has moved into a same sex relationship (after a heterosexual one), I find it rather difficult to see how the material quoted there is doing much more than confirming what a lot of kids already know or guess sometimes happens.  (And it's also worth noting again that just because something is suggested in a teacher's manual does not mean that teachers will use it in exactly that fashion.  Hence, I wouldn't be surprised if many don't refer specifically to what the "Joseph" fantasises about, for example.) 

As I have suggested before, acknowledging that bisexuality (or fluid desire?) exists does not even necessarily imply support for same sex marriage - if we're going to be like ancient Greeks and Romans, who had little problem with sexual desire for some being "non binary",  a modern person can also take their view that marriage is primarily about heterosexual reproduction, and no matter that some people fall in love with people of the same gender, the State or society has no particular interest in recognizing those relationships as "marriage".

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