CW: Suicide, self-harm, trans/queerphobia, conversion therapy
This week, Scott Morrison revealed himself to be a transphobic and biphobic leader.
On Monday, Morrison stated on a radio show that he places his children in private schools because he didn’t want “the values of others” to be imposed on them.
He accompanied this by commenting that teaching children about different sexualities, like bisexuality and lesbianism, made his “skin curl”.
He doesn’t seem to be aware that the type of school you go to has no impact on what your sexuality or gender identity is.
I attended a single sex religious school and became Australia’s premiere rollerskating transexual.
— Jordan Raskopoulos (@JordanRasko) September 4, 2018
In a different radio show on the same day, he said that conversion therapy—which is legal across the nation, but described as torture by the UN—was “not an issue” for him. In the same interview, he claimed that he loved all Australians—even the gay ones. That’s some seriously concerning cognitive dissonance, but it’s not like we’ve never seen a deceitful hypocrite sit in Parliament before.
“Conversion therapies and sexual orientation change efforts are harmful and can have fatal consequences,” stated Greens senator Janet Rice in response, “they must must be stamped out.”
Morrison was back the next day, tweeting that young children “do not need ‘gender whisperers’”, ignorantly stating that the help trans and gender diverse children may receive from teachers was unnecessary.
We do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids. https://t.co/POzM26PXU5
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) September 4, 2018
The Daily Mail article he has quoted in the tweet incorrectly framed information, and quotes a single doctor who is not an expert in LGBTQIA+ youth mental health and believes that this education would be harmful. The councillors in question in the article have denied being trained to spot possibly transgender children.
Morrison’s comments and the support for them will undoubtedly harm some of the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQIA+ community—children. His plea to “let kids be kids” shows an ironic ignorance of not only all children profoundly suffering in offshore detention who can’t freely “be kids”, but also the mental health of young queer kids on the mainland.
Just last week, in the US, a 9-year-old boy died to suicide after coming out as gay and being bullied for it. Queer children still face bullying at alarming rates, and an Australian study, From Blues to Rainbows, found that almost half of trans and gender diverse children struggle with severe depression. The report also revealed that 81 per cent admitted that they have considered suicide, and almost two-fifths of them attempt it, while 70 per cent have self-harmed.
The same study revealed that support from parents, teachers and peers had a strong positive impact on the mental health of young transgender children.
“Teachers, parents and kids themselves should learn from this research and support gender diverse and transgender young people,” says beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman, “before they reach a point where they experience depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts.”
On Friday, Morrison committed to change laws on religious freedom, while simultaneously claiming he was not a “culture warrior”. The church leaders in favour of this change want to continue pushing traditional marriage, and want their freedom of speech protected. It’s certain that this religious freedom does not extend to the protection of Muslims and faiths outside Christianity, given Morrison’s history and previous praise of Donald Trump’s “muslim ban”.
The protection of speech that demonises non-traditional marriage further enables the circumstances under which hate speech can be seen as an alternative opinion worth engaging with; the same set of circumstances that almost led a transphobe to the lectern at UWA last month. It leads to the bullying of children—to the point of severe mental distress, trauma, and even death. And to the community being three times more likely on the whole to experience depression. It leads to 60 per cent of LGBTQIA+ people being verbally harassed, to 20 per cent being physically assaulted.
Just.equal CEO Rodney Croome has called on the Prime Minister to meet transgender and gender diverse Australians.
“Australia’s most respected mental health group, beyondblue, has found that most transgender and gender diverse young people experience abuse because of who they are, leading in turn to higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
“If Mr Morrison is going ‘to be on the side of Australia’ he must open his heart to those Australians who are most vulnerable to hate and fear.”