Teachers in the Northern Territory could soon be told not to call pupils ‘boys and girls’, while schools could be encouraged to organize ‘gender neutral’ sports teams, as part of an ongoing plan to elaboration by the state government.
Teachers in the Northern Territory may soon be told not to call pupils “boys and girls” to avoid offending children who may question their gender.
Schools would also be encouraged to hold ‘gender neutral’ sports teams, physical education activities and sports days, as part of the plan being developed by the Northern Territories Department of Education.
Children attending school camps would be allowed to use the toilets, showers and dormitories of their “asserted sex”.
The guidelines are included in the draft Guidelines on Sex, Sexuality and Gender Diverse Identity in Schools which have been sent out for consultation by the Northern Territories Department of Education.
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“The use of gendered language such as ‘girls and boys’ or ‘ladies and gents’ confirms gender stereotypes and roles and can be alienating to gender issues and children of different genders,” the document states. .
“Avoid this by using more inclusive vocabulary like ‘students’, ‘class’, ‘crew’, ‘everyone’, people’ or ‘year X’.”
Schools would be discouraged from separating boys and girls on sports days.
“Where possible, schools should organize gender-neutral teams, physical education activities and sports days,” the guidelines state.
“Many transgender and gender-diverse children often forgo participating in sports and physical activities because they feel very uncomfortable or are pressured to play on teams that do not match their gender identity.
“Swimming and water activities or any other sport where tight-fitting clothing is worn can be unsettling for children who identify as a gender different from their physical attributes.
“Schools need to be flexible in terms of type of clothing and participation.”
Guidelines are also set out for field trips and camps.
“When considering school excursions, including overnight stays, the teacher responsible for the excursion should consult with students, parents and LGBTQI support teams to confirm preferences,” the document states.
“Children should be able to access personal facilities such as toilets and showers and sleep in the same dormitories as other children of their stated gender.
“However, any child who is LGBTIQ and who needs or wants greater privacy, for whatever reason, should be provided with personal facilities and reasonable accommodation options, which may include a private bedroom.”
Teachers are told to consider the safety of other students, but children are warned that raising such concerns could be considered bullying.
“If a child, or their peers, disagree that they would feel safe and comfortable sharing, seek alternative solutions and acknowledge that this is an indication of exclusionary behavior possible and potential bullying of the LGBTQI child,” the guidelines read.
“Have a process in place, such as monitoring interactions or switching children who feel uncomfortable, to reduce the likelihood of continued bullying.
“Educating children and parents about human rights and discrimination is a good first step in avoiding worry. Also emphasize that the safety and well-being of every child comes first.
Education Minister Lauren Moss said she would not comment on the details of the guidelines as it was a draft document that was still under consultation.
“I think it’s really important that we create welcoming and inclusive environments for all students and that includes our students who are LGBTQI,” she said.
“We know that often these students are young people and children who experience higher levels of harm or higher levels of isolation or higher levels of bullying and we need to make sure that we work together as a community school to support all of our students and make sure they all feel welcome.
But the nation’s Liberal Party Senate candidate, Jacinta Price, said the guidelines were political correctness gone mad.
“I am amazed that the Gunner government is even considering trying to apply a Marxist ideology to our school system here in the Northern Territory.”
She said it was absurd that the Northern Territories government was spending so much time and energy following the guidelines given the appalling school attendance rates in remote communities.
“It shows that the priorities of the Northern Territory government are all mixed up,” she said.
Ms Moss said consultation was underway with pupils, “school authorities and with our education stakeholders”.
“We know that for many students across Australia, schools haven’t been the most welcoming place for them and we want to make sure we’re doing it right,” she said.