Jensen / Parents lose power to ‘rainbow ideology’

“There is clearly support needed for children struggling with identity and attractions, and bullying for any reason is unacceptable, but this particular program steps well over the line,” writes NICK JENSEN

MY children are now of the age where we have to start considering where to send them to school.

Often these decisions reflect a parent’s own background and experience. For me, I was a public schoolboy all the way. Torrens Primary, Melrose High and Canberra College. There are always challenges growing up but, overall, I received a stellar education in a healthy environment with outstanding teachers.

Nick Jensen.

Therefore, I wouldn’t hesitate to have my children go through the same wonderful institution.

But there’s one factor holding us back and that is the new “Safe Schools” program that is being rolled out into Canberra public schools.

First launched in 2010 and offered to primary and high schools, its notional aim was to create “safe and more inclusive environments for same-sex attracted, intersex and gender-diverse students, staff and families”.

This aim seems a reasonable one and its advocates have been at pains to paint it as simply an “anti-bullying” program, but lately some serious problems have been uncovered.

Prof Patrick Parkinson, one of the top family law experts in the country, released a report in September that showed not only were the program’s statistics “unscientific”, but it presented contested theories on gender fluidity and sexual orientation as fact.

Not only that, but it encouraged transitional pathways from a boy to a girl (or girl to boy) without medical or psychological guidance, or even parental knowledge or consent.

In addition to this damning report, a video emerged of the Safe Schools founders stating that the program was not about stopping bullying, but instead promoting sexual and gender diversity to children.

It also caught them gloating that “parents don’t have the power to shut this down”. This prompted people such as transgender activist and Order of Australia recipient Catherine McGregor to withdraw support from Safe Schools, referring to it as Trotskyist Queer Theory that “leads trans people into a blind alley”. Former Labor leader Mark Latham saw the danger as well, calling it a “Trojan horse” for indoctrination.

There is clearly support needed for children struggling with identity and attractions, and bullying for any reason is unacceptable, but this particular program steps well over the line. Prof Parkinson even went so far as to say that although the program may have benefits to some young people, it also had the potential to cause harm to others by encouraging them to experiment sexually and treat gender as fluid.

The Federal government became aware of these issues and put new guidelines in place removing some of the more extreme sexualised content and links, and making sure that parents have an option for their children to opt-out. It left gender fluidity in but made clear it would not be funding the program again.

The NSW government also acted, deciding there was enough evidence of concern to call for an independent inquiry into the program. While the report unfortunately remains confidential, it has resulted in a statewide ban from teaching gender theory of affiliate programs in public classrooms.

So, in light of all this, what has the ACT decided to do about Safe Schools? Obviously taking into consideration the academic reports, various independent reviews and significant public and parental concern, it has decided to ignore all of this and fund the program out of Canberra parents’ pockets for an extra $100,000 per year.

It will, of course, rebrand it (in order to avoid the bad press of Safe Schools without removing the contentious content) and ensure that parents once again do not have the option of “opting-out”.

This is all part of the journey towards what is now being called the “rainbow ideology”. Primarily, it involves the deconstruction of gender, as well as a shift away from “heteronormativity”. You will have surely seen the taxpayer-funded rainbow flags plastered across the city lately, signalling the government’s commitment to this ideology. All we are seeing is the next stage.

First is the removal of “male” and “female” from marriage, and now removing “boy” and “girl” from our education system. Soon the ACT may even follow the Victorian path and make the program compulsory in all ACT public schools, ultimately replacing Australian flags outside schools with rainbow ones.

So where does it leave our schooling decision with our own children? Well, unless there are significant changes to the program where gender fluidity teaching is dropped, where older boys are not using the same change rooms as my daughter and where parents are made fully aware of what is being taught and are able to opt out, then doubt arises entrusting my five-year-old to the ACT public education institution that I love. As parents we may not have the power, but we still have a choice.

Nick Jensen is the director of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute, which helps develop leaders in public policy (


25 Responses to “Jensen / Parents lose power to ‘rainbow ideology’”

  1. Peter Dark
    March 10, 2017 at 5:43 pm #

    I would be much more sympathetic to Nick Jensen being given free opportunity to express his clearly socially conservative views if he was prepared to be more honest about his background. For him to say the Lachlan Macquarie Institute is an organization which “helps develop leaders in public policy” is disingenuous and self-serving. Why not be honest and say it is an organization formed to support and lobby for conservative Christian values?

  2. R Bate
    March 7, 2017 at 1:49 am #

    Is it true that 30 percent of parents now prefer to send their children to non government schools? My children went to government schools but if mothers can’t be called mothers, fathers can’t be called fathers, boys can’t be called boys, girls can’t be called girls, and boys can go into girls’ toilets, the government school system has gone mad. I doubt there is anyone who wasn’t a victim of bullying at school. I know I was and I remember hiding in the toilets when I was 5. My husband was, until he bashed the perpetrators up. My children were, one walking a long way round from school every day to dodge the bullies. The worst case of bullying I have seen was at a school carnival by a strong girl and her pack who kept following a small girl round and wouldn’t leave her alone. The mother was crying so I grabbed the strong girl and sent her, and her pack, packing. The strong girl won her racing event, received lots of accolades, and later turned out to be a lesbian. Bullying of anyone should be discouraged, but no particular group should be singled out. Having come from NSW and having seen parts of the safe schools programme, I found it, and some of the illustrations, very biased. I would not want my children to be part of it.

  3. R. Mason
    March 4, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

    I find it really sad that there are people like Mr. Jensen and the ACL who believe that there is some hidden “agenda” from the LGBTIQ community. The reality is that we just want to be treated equally under the law, and for young LGBTIQ people to stop being bullied at school. That is it.

  4. Ben.M
    March 2, 2017 at 3:36 pm #

    In Response to both this article and Mr Ashton, I believe you seem to be misplacing criticism of the article that is both valid and just as legitimate as your concern.

    The article is an opinion piece, granted, however the author does not fully disclose his links to the ACL.
    By this I specifically mean that the Lachlan Macquarie ‘Institute’ is the organization that runs the Lachlan Macquarie Internship, a bi-annual course run by the Australian Christian Lobby aiming to give “post graduate christians… a foundational understanding of the intersection between religion and politics in Australia”

    The ACL has direct links on their website to the Lachlan Macquarie Institute under ‘education’.

    Having made this direct unambiguous link between the LMI and the ACL, Mr Jensen has been repeatedly linked to the ACL and has neither denied, nor challenged the link.

    He also made the extremely well publicized statement in 2015 of his intent to divorce his wife should marriage equality become legal.

    I believe this is the point made in the responses.. he is being deliberately disingenuous when writing this article. He uses no references to the actual curriculum documents. Makes no attempt to include either policy makers involved in the contentious curriculum, nor those of any actual parents whose children have been involved with the classes.
    He also does not declare the source of the report he uses in his article, and I also note that it is a singular report, not peer reviewed, not tested by other experts for bias, and incidentally was paid for by the ACL.

    By using these underhanded techniques, half truths, incomplete facts and loaded language , Mr Jensen loses any credibility for his argument.

    Mr Jensen erroneously connects the result of a political knee jerk reaction in NSW and the resultant enquiry (a confidential report as a result) with the withdrawal of safe schools curricula in NSW. Would it not also suggest using Mr Jensen’s own logic, that the ACT interpreted the reports differently? saw advantage to continuing the program?
    Has Mr Jensen provided evidence of ‘harm’? Has he indicated how many classes are attended by children over the course of a school career and the proportion of those classes related to Gender in any way? Does Mr Jensen suggest that More information is worse than Less to young people still decideing (for themselves!) who they want to be?

    Mr Jensen did not provide any detail or numbers to support his claim of ‘significant public and parental concern’. With no detail Mr Jensen, ‘significant’ could indicate 13% of the ‘public and parents’. That situation would indicate 87% support within those same demographics wouldn’t it? Can Mr Jensen provide any evidence to refute this overwhelming level of positive support for the program? No. He provided generalisms and half truths. Not fact. Not evidence.

    If someone is writing as a political policy affiliate of one of the most extreme right wing Christian lobby groups in this country, he should announce it. Fully. Then state his case. Clearly. Factually. Providing evidence.
    Go back to school Mr Jensen.

    • Nick Jensen
      March 2, 2017 at 8:44 pm #

      Hey Ben, happy to respond to someone raising reasonable points and concerns.

      In terms of the ACL connection, I have never hidden any connection. In fact I used to write under the title of ACT director when I was in that role. Now I work as Director of LMI, which is a seperate entity to ACL. Either way, my opinions are my own and I would hope the arguments would be judged on their merits than found guilty by association.

      I’m sorry I could not provide more sources for you, but one can be limited when writing opinion pieces. I thought an qualified academic, the Safe School founders, a political leader, and a Transgender activist who had been involved in Safe School connected boards would be enough to quote for such a short piece.

      The academic paper can be found here. I’m not sure how peer-review works with such research, but the authority of the standards of UNSW and the extremely impressive reputation of Professor Parkinson should be enough to be taken seriously. As far as I am aware it was not commissioned by ACL.

      I don’t quite understand the ‘erroneous’ concern about the link to the NSW report. Even though it hasn’t been released, the link between the report and the ban was made by the NSW Minister. I’m not aware of any report commissioned in the ACT. The evidence of harm was primarily based on the above mentioned report.

      In terms of whether ‘more’ information is better than ‘less’, I would say that less is better if the information is unscientific and misleading as Professor Parkinson suggests.

      Proof of significant public and parental concern? 11,000 have already signed a petition just in Victoria, and 17,000 in NSW. I’m not aware of any significant polling done on the issue, but I’m pretty sure it would be north of 13%. Even if that was all, surely that minorities concern for their children’s education should be taken seriously.

      I am not personally right wing (and I don’t know if ACL’s work in gambling, foreign aid, penalty rates and refugees would put them squarely in ‘extreme right wing’), but you’ll be glad to know I am back at school doing a Masters. Thank you for your feedback.

      • Graeme
        March 17, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

        The LMI is wholly owned and run by the ACL. The board is the same isn’t it? The offices of the LMI are in the same building as the ACL and are run on a secrecy basis. The ACL especially Lyle Shelton doesn’t want anyone to find out the direct link between the two. When eventually the link is exposed then proper accountability will be seen. Paranoid organisations are of concern.

  5. Canberra Parent
    March 2, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    I have just sent this to the editor:

    I was puzzled and dismayed by Nick Jensen’s opinion piece (CN, March 2,‘Parents lose power to ‘rainbow ideology’). My children have benefited from the Safe Schools program in the ACT public education system. I’m very glad Andrew Barr has ensured the program will continue in Canberra.

    Mr Jensen is clearly not so happy. He’s of course entitled to that opinion. However, there are many factual errors in Jensen’s piece. He has also been disingenuous about his association with the Australian Christian Lobby, a conservative group who oppose marriage equality as well as the Safe Schools program. The only other source he quotes, by Prof Patrick Parkinson, has also been commissioned by the ACL.

    A quick Google helped me recall Mr Jensen’s personal association with the marriage debate: he is the man who infamously promised to divorce his wife if same sex marriage was legalised (CN June 10, 2015).

    Unfortunately his remarks about Safe Schools are equally silly. No one refers to a ‘rainbow ideology’ except the ACL director, Lyle Shelton. While I’m not really sure what this means, the only ‘ideology’ I can find on the education department’s website refers to “creating safe and supportive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse people by reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools.”

    The Safe Schools Program does not run classes in primary schools, and Mr Jensen has no need for concern for his preschool children. I suspect he already knows this and is scaremongering.

    Safe Schools does offer support for gender diverse and intersex primary aged children. I’m very grateful to them for this support and thank the ACT government’s continued promotion of a kinder, better informed and more accepting school community.

    • Chris Emery
      March 2, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

      Good to hear the extreme right are being answered.

  6. David Ashton
    March 2, 2017 at 10:09 am #

    Have you bothered to check whether he has this connection?

    • Richard Moore
      March 2, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

      Jensen is ACL’s ACT director. He an extremist so opposed to marriage equality (and LGBTI people in general it seems from this article) he also promised to divorce if marriage equality becomes law.

      • David Ashton
        March 2, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

        It is not extemism to disagree with “marriage equality”.

        • R Pickavance
          March 2, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

          Not extremism, just homophobic

          • David Ashton
            March 3, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

            Nonsense. Who’s being bigoted now?

  7. Richard Moore
    March 1, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

    Any valid issue that Jensen may have had is so mired in loaded language that debate is a waste of effort. Transphobia-by-proxy using protestations against left politics as a useful shield.

    • David Ashton
      March 2, 2017 at 10:08 am #

      It is a written with clear language. It does not express transphobia. It sounds as if you are so deeply committed to your point of view that you cannot hear anything unless it expresses that point of view.

      • R Pickavance
        March 2, 2017 at 11:09 am #

        I agree Richard Moore. Jensen relies on a totally discredited report commissioned by the Australian Christian Lobby, fails to disclose his links to the Australian Christian Lobby, as well as parroting many of the lies and misinformation about Safe Schools that were generated by the ACL.

        I find it peculiar that these so called Christians find the need to lie when attacking those they disparage and wish to marginalise and discriminate against.

        • David Ashton
          March 2, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

          What were these lies and misinformation?

          • R Pickavance
            March 2, 2017 at 7:11 pm #

            Every single statement he makes about what Safe Schools is about, and what it teaches.

            He also repeats the outright LIE that Safe Schools encourages transitioning of children without psychological evaluation or parental knowledge! That is not possible in this country.

            The ONLY places you find these LIES is in ACL propaganda

          • David Ashton
            March 3, 2017 at 3:29 pm #

            You need to more precise than that. How and why? Explain how and why.

      • Richard Moore
        March 2, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

        Yes David, I have an ear attuned to transphobia (and LGBTI-phobia in general) and this srticle rings loudly with it. If you choose to overcome your transphobia tin ear you will here it too.

        • David Ashton
          March 2, 2017 at 2:26 pm #

          No, you read anything that does not agree with your perspective as phobic. Listen up: it is not “phobic” to disagree with you.

          • R Pickavance
            March 2, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

            It is phobic to use faux science, debunked research and outright lies to invalidly demonise and marginalise a minority

          • David Ashton
            March 2, 2017 at 4:14 pm #

            Would you care to show us where Jensen has done this in this article?

          • R Pickavance
            March 2, 2017 at 7:06 pm #

            Jensen did this through citing the Parkinson report, which used dubious methods, quoted outdated research, was prepared by someone with zero qualifications in the fields of either education, paediatrics or gender dysphoria, and was funded by the ACL.

            He also quoted the “video” which was freely recorded st a public event, and then edited to support the case of those who used it – guess who, yes the ACL.

  8. Chris Emery
    March 1, 2017 at 11:54 am #

    I think this article should show its authors connection with the Australian Christian Lobby rather than the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.

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