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Dear TGD folk and families,

As you are no doubt aware, the latest chapter in the Education Amendment (parental rights) Bill 2020 is currently underway. For many of us, if not most TGD people and families it is a distressing time. Yet again the legitimacy of trans people’s lives are being discussed across parliament and in the media. It is distressing for many of us that there is currently a focus in the NSW legislative assembly on the idea that a parent’s right to educate their children and instil their own values might necessitate a bill that requires a strict removal of any reference to trans and gender diverse people and forbids all teaching and non-teaching staff as well as volunteers from teaching, advising, instructing or counselling students on anything to do with gender diversity.

From the Gender Centre’s perspective there seems to generally be confusion and misunderstanding around the facts of the bill, around the way that organisations like the Gender Centre work to support schools, and how the Education Amendment (parental rights) Bill 2020 could work if passed.

The Gender Centre has been supporting NSW schools for a number of years. We advise and assist at least one school every week on the best way to help transgender and gender diverse children and families be treated like every other student and family. We work with schools in such a way that parent’s rights to decide values and beliefs for their child is respected and meets the Australian community’s expectations of good citizenship regardless of religious belief, ableness, gender expression or other diversity. It works. We continue to see that with the right kind of support families and students can thrive amongst a plurality of ideas, expressions, beliefs and lived experiences. We see that if you keep a TGD child within the safety of a loving supportive family then that child does well. If you keep that TGD family within the safety of a loving supportive community that child will excel.  We also see, through the various crisis services we provide, what happens when you don’t.

NSW TGD families and community members are anxious and frightened by what is happening around the education amendment bill. That’s understandable. However it’s worth considering a few things about living in NSW and Australia. Many of the major headline news stories we get about trans people and children comes from the US and the UK. In these countries things are extremely dire. The rights of trans people and families are under assault and the lives of trans people are at risk. In Australia trans people experience discrimination and violence across many issues, but there are also federal anti-discrimination laws in place, in schools and in workplaces that insure the rights of transgender adults and children.   

The Education Amendment (parental rights) Bill 2020 is currently working its way through the parliamentary process. However, there are important questions to be answered about how such a bill could work in light of existing federal anti-discrimination laws. Federal anti-discrimination law makes the central tenant’s of the Education Amendment (parental rights) Bill 2020 illegal. Federal legislation overrides state legislation (for further information about the bill you can read Ros Cook of the Inner City Legal Centre’s review of the law here,  as well as Professor Luke Beck’s article here.

The Gender centre encourages community and supporters to contact their state members to express any concerns that they have around the bill.

As usual the Gender Centre is available to talk and can be contacted on 95199 7599.