July 29th 2017


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COVER STORY The rise and rise of Old King Coal

EDITORIAL Behind Donald Trump's endorsement of Poland

CANBERRA OBSERVED Cory Bernardi claims strong flow to his ranks

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Liu Xiaobo's extraordinary courage remembered

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Why we must fight for freedom: Trump in Poland

HEALTH Gardasil(R) and the man upon the stair, Part II

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Death of caliph will hasten end of Islamic State

MUSIC What's in a tune: minor change makes a major difference

CINEMA Spider-Man: Homecoming: Reboot on a domestic scale

BOOK REVIEW Moves that may push our constitution over

BOOK REVIEW Exposing the transgender agenda

LETTERS

GENDER POLITICS Edmund Rice Education Australia proposes transgender sex-ed

GENDER POLITICS Melbourne mum goes viral on 'Safe Schools'

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GENDER POLITICS
Edmund Rice Education Australia proposes transgender sex-ed


by Chris McCormack

News Weekly, July 29, 2017

Recently, Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) issued three scoping documents that form a proposal to develop a whole of school approach to “transgender” sex education for its schools. EREA governs 52 Catholic schools and has 34 associate schools across Australia.

EREA has released three documents, Live Life to the Full: Resources for Principals, School Leaders & Teachers, the Safe and Inclusive Learning Communities report by Peter Norden and Live Life to the Full: EREA Safe and Inclusive Learning Communities Statement (SILC).

The SILC statement says that “‘transgender’ relates to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. A person who is transgender may or may not decide to ‘transition,’ which requires medical and psychological support.”[1]

Broadly, “transgender” theory promotes the idea that a person’s gender identity is fluid and can be other than a person’s sex at birth. It says that a boy can identify as a girl, or a girl can identify as a boy, or that a person can be on a spectrum of male/masculine-to-female/feminine, or a person can have an identity independent of sex (for example, agender, androgyne, gender fluid, gender queer), or a person can be genderless. Gender identity is subjective, self-defined and fluid. In theory, every person can have their own self-defined gender identity.

The SILC statement goes on to say, “‘gender questioning’ relates to people who may be questioning the validity of their biological sex.”[2] In psychology, this is called gender dysphoria, where distress results from a conflict between a person’s self-defined gender identity and their sex recorded at birth.

In such cases, the SILC statement says: “It is recommended that the approach taken if a student discloses a wish to transition should be developed under the advice of and in collaboration with the young person, their parents and caregivers, appropriate professionals, as well as key school and EREA staff.”[3] This statement suggests the school and others will take an active part in deciding what course of action will be taken with the child, rather than leaving the welfare of a gender-dysphoric child to the child’s parents.

Statistics on sexual orientation, particularly statistics on same-sex attraction, have been inflated by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University, using biased survey methodology.

Separately, there is a very small number of children who are transgender, that is, they have the psychological condition of gender dysphoria. SILC appears to have inflated the figures on gender dysphoric children.

Further, advocacy groups, like ARCSHS, have conflated transgender with same-sex attraction to push for transgender sex-education programs like the highly controversial Safe Schools Coalition program.  This program, developed by ARCSHS, has been defunded by the federal and several state governments.

Now EREA is proposing a “transgender” sex-education program based on ARCSHS data.

Figures on same-sex attracted teens

The SILC statement claims that 16.8 per cent of students are either same-sex attracted or attracted to both sexes,[4] citing the 5th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health produced by the ARCSHS.[5] This figure has been inflated using biased survey sampling.

Of the 2,136 participants in this survey, 774 (36.3 per cent) did not complete the survey at school.[6] The online ads seeking participants for the survey were found exclusively through online sites associated with gay activist, polygamy activist, sadomasochistic and/or pornographic organisations. Some of these included the Minus 18 (a gay youth activist organisation) Facebook site, the Tumblr page of “keep it safe summer”,[7] which promotes gay rights, polyamory, sadomasochism and sex toys, the Tumblr page of Necromancers Soul,[8]which contains extremely violent and sadomasochistic content, and the Facebook site of a radio sex program[9] that specifically promoted Minus 18 and homosexual content in sex education, as well as LGBT issues and the sex industry.

Further, the online advertisement asked participants to “Help shape the future of Sex Ed in Australia”.[10] One hundred and ten “students”, or 5.1 per cent of participants, did not provide the name of their school and may or may not have been students. Only 26 schools (3.5 per cent) participated out of the 737 schools that were invited,[11] rendering the study statistically worthless.[12] Even the authors suggest on page 73 of the 5th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health that the sample of schools that participated was biased, with a larger proportion of progressive schools with “comprehensive” sexuality education programs.

While the authors of the report made it clear that the online participants represented a statistically distinct population from the school students, they nevertheless combined the two samples into one data set.

In addition to biased sampling, it appears that no effort was made to prevent one person completing the online survey multiple times.[13]

Given the revelations of the biased, targeted sample group used, no weight can be placed on the survey figures.

In short, the claim that 16.8 per cent of Australian school students are same-sex attracted was based on heavily biased sampling that has no statistical validity.

In contrast, the Australian Bureau of Statistics General Social Survey, 2014, states that 3.0 per cent of the population identified as gay, lesbian or other.[14] Morgan Research polling found a similar average figure, but also showed that in 2012–14, same-sex attraction peaks at 6.5 per cent when people are in their 20s and declines to 1.7 per cent when people are in their 50s.[15]

Figures on transgenders

The EREA Resources for Principals, School Leaders & Teachers claims that 5 per cent of school students are transgender.[16] The source for this figure is unclear.

However, figures from the 2016 Australian Census show the number of those identifying as something other than male or female are very small, between five and 16 per 100,000 people, or 0.005–0.016 per cent of the population.[17] According to the American Psychological Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM 5), the prevalence of gender dysphoria is 0.005–0.014 per cent for adult natal males and 0.002–0.003 per cent for adult natal females.[18]

What about children suffering from gender dysphoria?

Dr Alexander Korte et al.[19] reviewed the literature on gender dysphoria in childhood and adolescents based on a selective Medline literature search, existing national and international guidelines, and the results of a discussion among experts from multiple relevant disciplines. Kore et al. found from multiple longitudinal studies only a minority of children with gender dysphoria “go on to an irreversible development of transsexualism”.[20] The studies cited found that between 80 per cent and 97.5 per cent of children with gender dysphoria have resolved their identity uncertainty by adulthood and identify only with their biological sex recorded at birth.[21]

Leading Australian paediatrician Professor Dr John Whitehall says that what is of concern, is how “gender dysphoria now rivals that of anorexia nervosa with its incongruity between bodily reality and mental perception (the body is thin but is imagined to be fat)[22] … In anorexia, management seeks to reduce the mindset, not substantiate it … But, with regard to gender dysphoria, [the opposite is] happening”. (Quadrant, May 2017)

Professor Louise Newman, director of the Monash University Centre for Developmental Psychiatry and Psychology and former president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, claims that the increase in cases of gender dysphoria appears to be due to decreasing social stigma surrounding the condition, the inclusion of transgender issues in school education, and the access young people have to online information and networks.[23]

Dr Whitehall has commented that cases of gender dysphoria display a “conflict between matter and mind [that] can be as destructive as any other delusional state and deserves our compassion”,[24] which raises the question: is transgender sex education the way to help these young people?

The “bullied GLBTIQ student” is a recent emergence

The EREA Live Life to the Full: Resources for Principals, School Leaders & Teachers also claims that 75 per cent of same-sex attracted or gender-questioning young people experience homophobic or transphobic bullying and 80 per cent of this abuse occurs in Australian schools.[25] The source for this figure is not clear.

Similarly, Peter Norden’s Safe and Inclusive Learning Communities report states: “For many same-sex attracted youth, the practices of school staff compounded their experience of discrimination”.[26] For this he cites a national youth survey by Hillier, Dempsey and Harrison (1998). The survey’s report was co-authored by ARCSHS.[27]

While anyone who is “different” for any reason is vulnerable to school bullying, in an extraordinary admission, Professor Tiffany Jones, collaborator on the Writing Themselves In 3 study, writes in the Journal of Sex Education[28] that the “bullied GLBTIQ student” is a recent emergence constructed by researchers, many of whom are backed by GLBTIQ networks.

“A stress on victimhood and endangered wellbeing can be supported by research participating processes, whereby students may be repeatedly asked … to describe and express their feelings about experiences of bullying and thoughts of suicide, or to … describe moods,” she wrote.[28] If the “bullied GLBTIQ student” is merely a research construct it would not seem to be a sound basis on which to introduce programs such as “Safe Schools” or the EREA proposal into schools.

Furthermore, good education pedagogy says that anti-bullying programs should teach students not to bully anyone for any reason, not just one group of potential victims.

Anti-bullying or transgender sex-education program?

Is ARCSHS research being used to justify GLBTIQ anti-bullying programs or to transform a supposedly anti-bullying program into a transgender sex education program?

Speaking at the 2015 Melbourne Marxism Conference, co-founder of the Safe Schools Coalition Program Roz Ward said the Safe Schools Coalition program was more about advocating for transgender-theory based programs in schools.[29]

Roz Ward complained that children have been conditioned by society and its law into adopting male and female gender identities. “Everything from the toilets we use, the school uniforms, changing rooms, all official documents, passports, the process is that you go through airports, everything is divided into these two limited gender options,” Ward said.

ARCSHS advocates sex education based on transgender theory, or queer theory, which says that any person, adult or a child, can identify with a gender identity that is other than their sex recorded at birth and does not have to be based on biological sex.

A hotly contested issue among transgender advocates is the extent to which children can be their own “sexual agents” capable of making their own decisions about their gender identity, sexual expression and practices. On the basis of child agency, transgender advocates have campaigned for programs like the ARCSHS’ Safe Schools Coalition sex-education program in schools so that children can become informed agents.

It is unclear what form of program the EREA is proposing. However, it has indicated that its scoping proposal is based on research by ARCHS. Safe Schools Coalition director Craig Comrie has said: “The design of the program is very much similar to ours.”[30]

If this is the case, does it intend to provide transitioning support for a very small proportion of children suffering from gender dysphoria, when global research reveals that 80 to 97.5 per cent of gender-dysphoric children identify only with their sex recorded at birth in adulthood?

If transitioning support involves medical interventions – which carry many known (and possibly unknown) medical risks as documented recently by Dr Whitehall in Quadrant[31] – will education authorities find themselves subject to future compensation claims for failure to exercise a duty of care for minors?

 

References

[1] EREA Safe and Inclusive Learning Communities Statement, Edmund Rice Education Australia, p2. Accessed June 19, 2017.

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.

[4] Results of the 5th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health, 2014, p23.

 [5] ibid.

[6] Paul Monagle, Terri Kelleher, Joseph Carolan, Submission no. 30a, Inquiry into the Sexualisation of children and young people, Australian Family Association, April 6, 2016, pp41–45.

[7] ibid.

[8] ibid.

[9] ibid.

[10] ibid.

[11] ibid.

[12] J.R. Draugalis, Coons, S.J. and Plaza, C. M., “Best Practices for Survey Research Reports: A Synopsis for Authors and Reviewers”, Am J Pharm Educ., Feb 15, 2008; 72(1): 11.

[13] op. cit. Monagle et al., p43.

[14] (Australian Bureau of Statistics – 4159.0 General Social Survey, 2014. Summary of Results)

[15] “Is Australia getting gayer—and how gay will we get?, Roy Morgan Research, June 2, 2015.

[16] Live Life to the Full, Resources for Principals, School Leaders & Teachers, EREA statement.

[17] Sex and Gender Diversity in the 2016 Census. 2071.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia – Stories from the Census, 2016.

[18] “Gender Dysphoria”, Medscape, accessed, July 17, 2017.

[19] A. Korte, Goecker, D., Krude, H., Lehmkuhl, U., Grüters-Kieslich, A., & Beier, K.M. (2008). “Gender identity disorders in childhood and adolescence: Currently debated concepts and treatment strategies”, Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, November 2008, 105(48), pp834–841. Accessed 17 April, 2017.

[20] R. Green, Roberts, C.W., Williams, K., Goodman, M., Mixon, A. “Specific cross-gender behaviour in boyhood and later homosexual orientation”, Br J Psychiatry, 1987, 151, pp84–88.

K.J. Zucker, “Gender identity disorders in children and adolescents”, Annu Rev Clin Psychol., 2005, 1, pp467–492.

P.T. Cohen-Kettenis, van Goozen, S.H., “Pubertal delay as an aid in diagnosis and treatment of a transsexual adolescent”, Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 1998, 7, pp246–248.

All cited in Alexander Korte, et al., op. cit.

[21] A. Korte, et al., op. cit.

[22] Professor Dr John Whitehall, “Gender dysphoria and surgical abuse”, Quadrant, December 2016.

[23] “Rise in gender dysphoria cases”, doctorportal, MJA InSight, Issue 2, January 27, 2015.

[24] John Whitehall, “Childhood gender dysphoria and the law”, Quadrant Online, May 10, 2017.

[25] Live Life to the Full, Resources for Principals, School Leaders & Teachers. EREA statement.

[26] Peter Norden, Safe and Inclusive Learning Communities, A national consultation report prepared for Edmund Rice Education Australia, p27.

[27] Lynne Hillier, Deborah Dempsey, Lyn Harrison, Lisa Beale, Lesley Matthews and Doreen Rosenthal, Writing Themselves In: A National Report on the Sexuality, Health and Well-Being of Same-Sex Attracted Young People, National Centre in HIV Social Research, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, 1998, p34.

[28] Tiffany Jones (2013) “How sex education research methodologies frame GLBTIQ students”, Sex Education, 13:6, pp687-701.

[29] Patrick J. Byrne, “Safer schools or a radical Marxist sexual revolution?”, News Weekly, February 27, 2016.

[30] Calla Wahlquist, “Catholic plan to combat homophobic bullying praised by education experts”, The Guardian, June 1, 2017.

[31] Whitehall, December 2016., op. cit.




























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