Newly appointed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made his stance on gender identity issues blatantly clear.
In response to a Daily Telegraph article that claimed schools are employing gender dysphoria-trained counselors to work with transgender students, Morrison tweeted that “gender whisperers” were not needed and that Australian schools should simply “let kids be kids”.
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The article further revealed that recent years have seen a “surge” of young children referred to gender clinics, with New South Wales teachers now receiving training from transgender support organisation The Gender Centre to help them identify students who may be questioning their gender identity.
“Teachers are now being taught to spot potential transgender students in the classroom — with experts claiming the move has contributed to a 236% surge in the number of kids wanting to change sex in the past three years,” the Daily Telegraph article reported.
We do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids. https://t.co/POzM26PXU5— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) September 4, 2018
Mel McKinlay, the mother of a 15-year-old transgender student, told Australian news website news.com.au that the prime minister needed to reevaluate his choice of words and comprehend the terrible impact ignorance and negative comments can have on trans students.
“The term ‘gender whisperer’ is just another notch in a long history of LGBTQ people dehumanised, treated as subhuman, or otherwise perverted and not fit for society,” McKinlay stated. “Terms like ‘transgender agenda’ and ‘transgender contagion’ are terms that I have become accustomed to reading via social media pages that endeavorto reject our children and the legitimacy of our children’s existence, but I am not accustomed to reading this type of garbage from our ministers of parliament.”
“While Morrison’s remark may seem like a harmless comment on social media, it is actually a platform for hate speech and as such should not be taken lightly.”
And there you have it: our prime minister is now targeting vulnerable kids—and the good teachers who support them—in this tedious and hateful culture war.— Benjamin Law (@mrbenjaminlaw) September 4, 2018
Kids can’t be whispered into being transgender, PM. https://t.co/UpQf5pW6Lh
Does does anyone really think kids can be “gender whispered” into changing their gender? I have three children and this is utter bullshit. The very small proportion of community that do have huge rates of youth suicide. This is a dangerously stupid tweet. https://t.co/ZsHyB9EQJd— Samantha Maiden (@samanthamaiden) September 5, 2018
In response to Morrison's tweet, Kimmi Everson, the vice president of The Gender Centre, clarified that the organisation only offers guidance and support when directly approached by schools.
“The training that The Gender Centre then offers to staff is on how to accommodate the needs of existing transgender or gender diverse students within their specific schools,” she stated. "The Gender Centre does not work with any school without the involvement of parents."
This is so patronising to kids. They understand the world around them. When our kids had a classmate who was going through gender dysphoria, everyone in the school was incredibly supportive. Maybe our politicians need to listen more to the wisdom of children. https://t.co/feGZUN1Hav— Tracey Spicer AM (@TraceySpicer) September 5, 2018
Gender counsellor Dr Elizabeth Riley on NSW teachers being trained to identify potential transgender students: If the child is distressed, then we have a responsibility to reduce that distress.— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) September 5, 2018
The need for increased support for transgender children is well documented.
A 2017 report from Australian medical research organisation Telethon Kids Institute revealed that 48% of transgender youth had attempted suicide, with 4 out of 5 having engaged in self-harm.
“Trans children are in every school," gender counselor Elizabeth Riley stated, citing 1% of all students identify as trans. “Mental health issues, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and self-harm can all come from students not getting the support they need.”