After earlier this year introducing the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020, see our Briefing here, One Nation MLC Mark Latham has introduced a further private members bill seeking to address parental rights in the provision of education.
The Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020, details here, is described as –
“An Act to amend the Education Act 1990, the Education Standards Authority Act 2013 and the Teacher Accreditation Act 2004 to provide that schools must recognise that parents are primarily responsible for the development and formation of moral and ethical standards and social and political values in their children, including an understanding of personal identity and questions of gender and sexuality and to prohibit schools, teachers, and training courses from teaching gender fluidity, and for other purposes”.
The objects of the Bill are primarily to amend the Education Act 1990 as follows –
- to clarify that parents and not schools are primarily responsible for the development and formation of their children in relation to core values such as ethical and moral standards, social and political values and an understanding of personal identity, including in relation to gender and sexuality;
- to prohibit the teaching of the ideology of gender fluidity to children in schools;
- to provide that schools should not usurp the role of parents – that teaching in relation to core values is to be strictly non-ideological and should not advocate or promote dogmatic or polemical ideology that is inconsistent with the values held by parents of students;
- to ensure that curriculum, syllabuses, and courses of instruction at all levels of schooling do not include the teaching of gender fluidity and recognise parental primacy in relation to core values;
- to ensure that all school staff – including non-teaching staff, counsellors, advisors and consultants – do not teach gender fluidity and that such staff undertake their duties and engage with students in schools in a way that recognises parental primacy in relation to core values;
- to require schools at the beginning of each academic year to consult with parents about courses of study that will include teaching on core values;
- to allow parents to withdraw students from instruction on core values where parents object to the particular teaching on these matters of parental primacy;
- to require the NSW Education Standards Authority to monitor the compliance by government schools with the requirements to not teach gender fluidity and to recognise parental primacy in relation to core values;
- to provide for a review after two years of the compliance of schools with these requirements and for that review to be tabled in both Houses of the NSW Parliament.
The Bill defines the key terms “gender fluidity” and “matters of parental primacy” as follows –
gender fluidity means a belief there is a difference between biological sex (including people who are, by their chromosomes, male or female but are born with disorders of sexual differentiation) and human gender and that human gender is socially constructed rather being equivalent to a person’s biological sex.
matters of parental primacy means, in relation to the education of children, moral and ethical standards, political and social values, and matters of personal wellbeing and identity including gender and sexuality.
Further analysis of the Bill and its potential impact on Christian schools will be provided in due course. While there will undoubtedly be significant political opposition to the Bill there may also be widespread public support.