November 3rd 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY What religious freedoms does the Government propose removing?

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Regions are in no state to accommodate immigrants

CANBERRA OBSERVED Wentworth swing least of Morrison's worries

CLIMATE CHANGE Good science contradicts IPCC's two-degree panic

GENDER POLITICS Inquiry needed into why so many kids are identifying as transgender

LIFE ISSUES Truth the first casualty of Victorian bubble-zone law

LIFE ISSUES Culture of death lands killer blow on Queensland

FOREIGN AFFAIRS High stakes in U.S. midterm elections

FREE SPEECH Are university chiefs growing backbones?

HISTORY Chicago: City of the Big Shoulders

LITERATURE AND CULTURE

EUTHANASIA Making death easier makes life harder

RECENT RELEASE BOOK

MUSIC Recipe for groove: pulse is best sign of life

CINEMA First Man; Ladies in Black; Bad Times at the El Royale

BOOK REVIEW FDR's bad example from Depression era

BOOK REVIEW Cartoon hero puts it in black and white

HUMOUR

LETTERS

VICTORIAN ELECTION The left gets ready to scream 'haters'

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COVER STORY
What religious freedoms does the Government propose removing?


by Patrick J. Byrne

News Weekly, November 3, 2018

During the Wentworth by-election campaign, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his intention to remove protections for the freedoms of faith-based schools to select students in relation to a student’s sexual orientation, that is, their heterosexual or gay or lesbian sexual orientation.

Then, days before the ballot, the Greens with Labor’s support moved to ratchet up pressure on the Government by moving the Discrimination Free Schools Bill 2018 in the Senate. It sought to repeal section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act, thereby removing protections for faith-based schools in relation to “gender identity” as well as sexual orientation.

Therefore, it aimed to include not only gays and lesbians, but also transgenders; not only students but also staff, all of whom are covered in the Sex Discrimination Act.

In this way, Labor and the Greens sought complete removal of the present protections for religious schools that allow schools freedom to choose principals, teachers, staff and students on the basis of a person’s “gender identity” as well as sexual orientation.

At the time of News Weekly going to press, it was unclear whether the Prime Minister also supports the removal of protections in relation to a student’s “gender identity”.

The Government was yet to present its own bill to Parliament.

Currently, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 section 4 defines “gender identity” as “the gender-related identity, appearance or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of a person (whether by way of medical intervention or not), with or without regard to the person’s designated sex at birth.”

As “medical intervention” is not required for a person to identify as transgender, a boy/man only has to self-identify as female to access girls’ facilities and services.

If medical authorisation is requested, say, by a school or other agency, it is as easy to obtain from a gender clinic as getting an immunisation needle from a doctor.

Following Labor’s 2013 amendments to insert “gender identity” into the Sex Discrimination Act, four state education departments – NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia – have issued policies obliging state school authorities to give boys identifying as girls access to girls’ sports, change rooms, showers and toilets. They make it clear that failure to comply would put the teacher/principal in breach of the act.

Indeed, the South Australian policy explicitly warns principals and teachers that they may “breach anti-discrimination legislation” if they fail to provide transgender students with access to appropriate services and facilities.

No support among voters for such policies

This is despite most Australians opposing such policies. A December 2016 poll of 2,500 Australians by the Sexton Marketing Group showed 79 per cent opposed allowing boys who identify as girls access to girls’ toilets, showers and change rooms at school.

If, like the Labor-backed Greens bill, the Coalition Government’s religious freedom bill does propose repealing the freedoms of faith-based schools in relation to “gender identity”, it raises disturbing questions.

Will principals and teachers refusing boys identifying as girls access to female facilities and sports be at risk of discrimination charges and face not only penalties, but loss of professional accreditation and employment?

Will they face these penalties for no more than exercising their duty of care to students, particularly in relation to the safety of female students in change rooms, showers, toilets and sports?

Will faith-based schools face loss of accreditation/registration and be at risk of losing federal funding?

Why should political parties be able to choose their staff and members in accordance with the party’s policies, but faith-based schools be denied this same right in relation to enrolments and staff?

Trump moving the other way

The federal push comes at the same time as the Trump administration is moving in the opposite direction.

It plans to change Title IX, a law that was used by the Obama administration to impose gender ideology on schools and other agencies in the United States, under threat of losing federal funding. The Trump Administration proposal says that sex should mean biological male and female as recognised at birth, not as fluid gender identity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is leading the push, argues that government agencies need to adopt a uniform definition of “gender” that is objective and based on biological science. The agency’s proposed definition says: “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth … The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

This would mean that a person’s biological sex at birth would establish what sports, showers, change rooms and toilets a person could access.

If the Justice Department decides that the change is legal, the new definition could be approved and enforced in Title IX statutes and across government agencies early next year.




























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TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99


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