This is what it actually looks like to protect kids in schools


Teachers in Australia teach a curriculum grounded in truth and science – not one where they can cherry-pick the bits they agree or disagree with. As a public school teacher with over 30 years of experience, Senator Penny Alllman-Payne shares her unique perspective on One Nation’s so-called ‘indoctrination of children’ bill debated in the Senate this month.

By Senator Penny Allman-Payne

I feel like I'm uniquely placed to speak to the Australian Education Legislation Amendment (Prohibiting the Indoctrination of Children) bill. I've been a state secondary school teacher for nearly 30 years. I started out my career as a health and physical education teacher, and I also taught sexuality, human relationships and sexual education. I'm also qualified to teach secondary school science as well as humanities. When I left the department, I was a head of humanities and languages.

This bill seeks to put restraints on what teachers of health and physical education, sexual education, and science and humanities can teach in their classes. It's not about balance. It's about hate and propaganda.

We, as teachers, teach to the curriculum that we are provided. It is a curriculum that is grounded in truth and science. We don't cherry-pick the bits of science that we agree with or disagree with; we don't cherry-pick the bits of history that we like and are hard to face, and we don't discriminate against the children who are in front of us in our classes.

During this debate, I've watched people on the other side of the chamber laughing when we've spoken about education around students' gender. I invite them to come into a school and sit in front of a student who has made several attempts on their life because they have been subject to hate and transphobia. How dare they use our young people as political footballs. They want nothing more than to be accepted for who they are.

Young people are generous of spirit, they are accepting of others and they care about the planet and their future. They are critical thinkers, they are problem-solvers and they deserve an education that is grounded in truth, justice and human rights. They deserve an education that is grounded in science.

It is not teachers in schools who are attempting to indoctrinate our young people. They are professionals that work hard to give every young person in this country the positive future that they deserve. It is the people on the other side of this chamber who are seeking to indoctrinate people with their hateful and bigoted views in our schools.

I will not subject young people in this country to their bigotry and hate. I will stand up every time I see it, and the Greens will call it out.

This bill isn't about critical thinking; this bill is about legislating a far-right curriculum. Individual senators and parties interfering in what is taught in our schools, instead of leaving it to the education experts, is a very slippery slope. In the US, we see some states banning teachers from teaching about racism or sexuality, and some are even banning books.

This bill is dangerous. As a teacher with over 30 years of experience in our schools, I know it is an injustice to the young people in our schools, and it is an insult to teachers.

Senator Penny Allman-Payne is the Greens’ spokesperson for schools.

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