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Malcolm Turnbull urges calm heads over Safe Schools LGBTI program

Shalailah Medhora reports in The Guardian Australia (26.2.16) on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull facing questions over inflammatory claims from government MPs, including Queensland Nationals backbencher George Christensen, regarding the appropriateness of the Safe Schools LGBTI anti-bullying program.

This comes as an opinion piece in the Courier-Mail (27.2.16) describes the Prime Minister’s decision to approve an inquiry into the Safe Schools program as ‘giving up’ on school students who would otherwise benefit: “It is a measure of the factional weakness of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he bowed to this demand from the likes of Cory Bernardi, Eric Abetz, George Christensen, Jo Lindgren and Andrew Nikolic to question the worth of a program that previously had bipartisan support, involved almost 500 schools and had 15,000 teachers.”

The Guardian article claims: ‘Malcolm Turnbull has urged calm heads in the debate on whether the Safe Schools program should continue, after government MP George Christensen likened the anti-bullying initiative to child grooming.

‘Christensen told parliament on Thursday that the program, which aims to stamp out homophobia and transphobia in schools, had recommended pornographic content and taught children to bypass parental internet filters to access certain websites.

‘“The parents would probably call the police because it would sound a lot like grooming work that a sexual predator might undertake,” he said.

‘The prime minister on Friday deflected questions on whether he supported Christensen’s comments.

‘“I encourage everybody who is discussing these issues to do so in very measured language, and to consider very carefully the impact of the words they use on young people and on their families,” Turnbull said. “The strength of our society is based on mutual respect and that is something that must be extended to all of us – children, and indeed, all Australians.”

‘Turnbull on Tuesday ordered a review of Safe Schools following backlash to the program from a number of Coalition MPs and senators.’

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