Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — I will not speak on this motion for long, as I actually do not want to dignify the position presented and particularly because, in spite of all of the strong support for the Safe Schools program and the positive effect it is having in schools, I am not going to change the views of Dr Carling-Jenkins here. Often this debate has focused on claims that we should be cautious when we talk about sexuality in schools. They say being gay is an ideology and that such ideology has no place in schools, but these are the same people who are saying we need more religion in schools. If we want ideology out of schools, then religion should not be in schools.
Opponents continue to misrepresent how this program operates. It is not the gay schools program, as our opponents say and would have us believe. It is the Safe Schools program, an extension of existing anti-bullying programs in schools. Bullying in schools is real. Other children are the bullies. We educate children about maths and science and real life in our schools, so why is it controversial that we are educating children about the harm bullying causes. Studies from La Trobe University and the University of Auckland have found that 10 per cent of students do feel same-sex attracted, 4 per cent of students are gender diverse or trans and 1.7 per cent of students are intersex and that 80 per cent of the abuse that those students experience happens at school.
Dr Carling-Jenkins will suggest that the figure of 10 per cent of students being same-sex attracted does not match up to any studies. That figure comes from a study, the 5th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health 2013 by La Trobe University. I have not seen any figures that do not back that up. This type of blatant denial is why we see staggering statistics of people who identify as LGBTIQ being 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than people who identify as heterosexual. This debate does nothing to help change that figure, and that harm is very real. We should be outraged that bullying can be so severe that people want to commit suicide — young people; students. We should not be dismissing it as ideology.
We have seen the pain and hurt given in the very emotional speech by Ms Shing. Dr Carling-Jenkins advocates a pro-life position, but she is risking the lives of young people by wanting to withdraw this life-saving program. Victoria Rawlings, a lecturer in education at the University of Sydney, says:
Much of the debate relating to Safe Schools so far has included commentators explicitly or implicitly suggesting that young people require protection from the concepts that the program raises.
The argument suggests that there is something particularly deviant or worrying about diverse sexual identities or gender issues, when we know that is not the case. We have even heard Dr Carling-Jenkins in her contribution on the previous bill state that religious schools are quite happy to accept LGBTI students and that they are welcoming. Well, why would they not welcome the Safe Schools program that seeks to protect those very children?
The program already has positive effects, with the number of transgender students being open in school growing from 1 to 54, as they are starting to feel safe, and the number of schools signing up to the Safe Schools program continues to grow. I think that is the evidence that it is working. This program is not compulsory for schools, but so far 276 Victorian schools are part of the coalition and 11 867 teachers have been trained. I think that the number is really telling. I trust teachers to know if programs are good for their students or not.