WHEN detailing the origins of the culture wars, Michael Gove in his 2006 book Celsius 7/7 refers to Germany’s Frankfurt School and the decision in the 1930s to overthrow capitalism by focusing on the long march through the institutions.
Gove writes: ‘The thinkers of the Frankfurt School revised Marxism as primarily a cultural rather than an economic movement’ and ‘instead of anger at traditional capitalism, scorn was directed at the reigning value systems of the West’.
Associated with the Frankfurt School is the concept of critical theory and the belief that the class battle will be won only by taking control of institutions such as schools, universities, the Church, the family and intermediary organisations including trade unions and professional associations.
While critical theory underpins a rainbow alliance of cultural-Left theories, the most egregious and sinister is gender theory and the argument that gender and sexuality are social constructs and not biologically determined.
As a result of the Safe Schools programme, Australian primary and secondary school students, notwithstanding that approximately 98 per cent of Australians identify as heterosexual, are taught that ‘sexuality can’t really be defined’ and ‘looking at sexuality as something that’s fluid and always changing is pretty cool’.
Instead of involving parents, students are taught they have the right to identify whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer or + (the plus is included as gender is supposedly indeterminate) and those who disagree are heteronormative, homophobic, cisnormative and transphobic.
One of the designers of the Safe Schools programme, Roz Ward, makes clear its radical nature when she argues: ‘Marxism offers both the hope and the strategy needed to create a world where human sexuality, gender and how we relate to our bodies can blossom in extraordinary new and amazing ways.’
While the Safe Schools programme justifies itself as being an anti-bullying initiative designed to address homophobia and transphobia, nothing is further from the truth. As admitted by Ward: ‘Safe Schools Coalition is about supporting gender and sexual diversity, not about stopping bullying.’
Since originating in Victoria in 2010 and becoming national in 2013, Safe Schools has received funding from state and commonwealth governments of all political persuasions. While not mandatory, except in Victoria, it is endorsed by education departments, subject associations and the largest teachers’ union, the Australian Education Union.
Universities and government departments have also been influenced by gender and sexuality theory. In addition to subjects such as literature and history being deconstructed, universities now have LGBTIQ + ‘safe spaces’, providing ‘a visible and inclusive safe area for staff and students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer (LGBTIQ)’.
In Victoria it’s increasingly common for government departments to have ‘they’ days, where public servants are told to use gender-neutral pronouns instead of ‘he’ and ‘she’, ‘him’ and ‘her’, on the basis that non-binary individuals would be offended. Australia’s airline, Qantas, adopts the same approach when training staff.
Since the late 1990s, the Australian Education Union – representing approximately 180,000 members – has also been involved in advocating gender LGBTIQ + theory across the nation’s state schools. Its 2003 policy states: ‘Homosexuality and bisexuality need to be normalised and materials need to be developed which will help combat homophobia. Such material must be inclusive and educate all students to value diversity.’
The Australian Association for the Teaching of English, in its journal for English teachers, advocates a non-binary view of gender and sexuality when arguing that literary texts set for the senior school curriculum privilege ‘heterosexual and cisgender identities as the norms against which to define the other’.
The argument is put that such texts are guilty of promoting heteronormativity, a situation leading to the ‘institutional reproduction of cultural norms: heterosexual stereotypes, heterosexual privilege; the normalising of heterosexuality’.
In addition, English teachers are told by the AATE that instead of using gender-specific pronouns in the classroom, they should ensure ‘their, they, them are used as alternatives to gendered pronouns’.
As in the United Kingdom, it should not be surprising that over the last four to five years there has been a significant increase in young people experiencing gender dysphoria and seeking medical treatment so they can transition. In Victoria in 2014, just over 100 children and adolescents sought treatment and by 2019 the number exceeded 300.
Such is the dominance of the transgender movement that Australia’s best-known comedian, Barry Humphries, had his name withdrawn from the award presented at the Melbourne Comedy Festival for daring to question whether a man who transitioned could ever be a woman.
Governments in Tasmania and Victoria have also agreed that birth certificates should no longer be restricted to describing babies as girls or boys, on the basis that such categories are cisnormative. The Melbourne-based Monash University’s ‘Inclusive Teaching Toolkit’ describes this as assuming ‘everyone is cisgender and that all people will continue to identify with the gender they were assigned at birth’.