Thanks to some old-fashioned fear-mongering from The Daily Telegraph, our latest Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is worried about ‘gender whisperers’ in schools, tweeting that we should “let kids be kids”. Thanks for that insight, Scott. It’s gems like these that we’re paying you hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for.
The Telegraph reports that teachers are being trained to “spot potential transgender students in the classroom”, which actually means that they’re being trained to respond appropriately when their students say things like “I feel different” or “I’m androgynous”. Teachers, being taught how to best support their students?! Not in Scott’s Australia, thank you very much!
While the Telegraph believes that the increasing number of students being referred to gender dysphoria clinics is the result of indoctrination (apparently there’s been a 236% surge in the number of kids wanting to transition in the past three years), logic would suggest that it’s actually the result of more teachers being equipped with the knowledge to identify and deal with these feelings in students. Before, kids who felt different were at best ignored, at worst bullied. Gender dysphoria clinics didn’t even exist for them to be referred to.
But now, as we all learn more about how best to assist children dealing with dysphoria, teachers can refer children to these clinics and provide them with adequate support. If that means that those children end up coming out as trans, that’s a win in my book, especially considering how high the risk of suicide is for young transgender people.
The Telegraph article quotes a gender counsellor, Dr Elizabeth Riley, who says “I only go into schools I’m invited into. I teach the school how to deal with these children with special needs and to treat them like any other child… It’s important we support them so they get the right advice early so they are not bullied or go into hiding.”
Dr Riley clarified her role to Junkee, explaning that she “teach[es] school staff what terms like transgender actually mean, and how to recognise a child potentially in distress over their gender identity”. She also refers children to counselling services if they’re needed.
That all sounds… totally fine? Is Dr Riley meant to represent these ‘gender whisperers’ Morrison is so scared of? If so, gender whisperers sound useful to have around. If all kids had access to experts like Dr Riley, I’m certain they would feel supported and valued, as all children should be.
Prime Minister Morrison says he’s worried about the values schools are imposing on children, which is why he sends his kids to independent schools. If the values he’s worried about are acceptance, support for people regardless of their differences, and less of a willingness to turn a blind eye to bullying, I think we could all stand to go back to school and get some values imposed on us.