To Protect Queer Kids, our public education system, and teachers we need to kill Mark Latham’s Bill
Angelica Kross is a young teacher and party activist calling on Labor members and MPs to oppose One Nation's 'Parental Rights' Bill. The Bill will mean that public schools must sack teachers who support trans and gender diverse students. Simply protecting a student from bullying will end a teacher's career.
As a preservice teacher, I was horrified at the prospect of the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill. I have decided to become a teacher because I care about young people, and I was outraged when it was brought to my attention that my ability to support the kids in my care would be threatened by the outcome of Mark Latham’s Bill l. This Bill would mean that if I respected a student and their preferred presentation, including pronouns and gender identity,I was at risk of my accreditation taken away. It is worth noting that it takes very little to affirm somebody's presentation but that, according to research and testimonials, it can go a long way for the wellbeing of the young person and their community .
My concerns are echoed by the NSW Teachers Federation, who presented a submission to the NSW Legislative Councilin which they stated that the guidelines and standards are already robust enough to ensure that parents have primary responsibility for the education of students. It emphasised that providing a caring environment for all students is best practice for schools and students.
With this in mind, I have been proud to work with other Labor activists through the NSW Labor Teachers Network in putting together a petition to convince caucus members in NSW Labor to unequivocally denounce the Parental Rights Bill. Support in the Labor Party at the Legislative Councillevel is divided. Anthony D’Adam joined the Greens’ David Shoebridge in commendably opposing the Bill. However, it is gravely concerning that the other NSW Labor representative Courtney Houssos voted with Mark Latham’s inquiry to support this Bill. In practice, the Bill will prevent teachers from using their expertise to create the productive and safe learning environment children need to learn. NSW Labor must stand with teachers and their unions by opposing this bill.
To show the support of the Teachers Network, a Tele Town Hall was held, which attracted over 90 Labor members and their supporters. A series of speakers addressed the crowd including young transgender person and ALP activist Quinn Rees. Quinn said it best when she said “It's a war, and we need to fight it like it's a war.” It reminded activists of the gravity of the situation being discussed.
At the conclusion of the meeting a vote was held showing unanimous support of opposing the bill. It was a win for providing a space where rank and file activists were able to express their concern with such a mandate. With changes to leadership in NSW, there is a higher chance that it will become easier for this legislation to be passed.
If you are a pre-service or accredited teacher and an ALP member, consider joining the NSW Teachers Network here.