The Salvation Army Supports Safe Schools Initiative

November 17, 2016

 

The Salvation Army Supports Safe Schools Initiative

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The Salvation Army supports the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria in its initiative designed to reduce homophobic and transphobic behaviour and create safe learning environments for all students. The Salvation Army is concerned by the very high level of bullying, higher levels mental health issues and the highest rates of suicidality of any group in Australia for same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people. The Salvation Army’s Victoria State Council (VSC) has been aware of the negative claims about the Safe Schools program and its related materials but believes these to be unfounded.

Chair of VSC, Major Dr Geoff Webb says “Our social policy unit has reviewed the official teaching resources provided by the Safe Schools Coalition and the four official guidelines. It has also studied the independent review commissioned by the Australian government, together with other materials. None of the negative claims made about the program accurately reflect anything in the official materials reviewed.

“Provided schools adhere to official teaching resources and the official guidelines, there should be no issues with Safe Schools. We support the provision of safe learning environments for all students,” Webb says.

Dr Webb notes that a Federal Government independent review found that the four official guides are consistent with the aims of the program and are appropriate for use in schools. “Our findings are consistent with the government’s review,” Webb says, “and the resource All of Us is consistent with the aims of the program, is suitable, robust, age-appropriate, educationally sound and aligned with the Australian Curriculum.”

The Salvation Army in Victoria has welcomed the Andrews Government commitment of additional funding to ensure that every Victorian secondary school is involved in the Safe Schools programme by the end of 2018.

 

For further information, contact:
Geoff Webb (Chair, The Salvation Army Victoria State Council)   0400 251588
The Salvation Army Media Unit  (Emma Daniell)  0437 830 550


More homophobic abuse by Paul Winter tolerated by J-Wire publisher Henry Benjamin

September 29, 2016

On an J-Wire article about the offensive Bill Leak “Waffen-SSM” cartoon, Paul Winter again pours more fuel on the fire of bigotry and intolerance:

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How much more of Paul Winter’s hate is J-Wire going to permit?

Would it permit anti-Semitic vilification?  Holocaust denial?  Anti-Zionist sentiment?

All comments are moderated by publisher Henry Benjamin, so he knows exactly what is appearing on his site.

Not good enough.


Homophobic violence and the Jewish Orthodox double standard

September 9, 2016

The Age of Blasphemy

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In Jerusalem less than a year ago, an ultra-Orthodox Jew named Yishai Schlissel, who had already publicly declared his loathing of homosexuals, wildly assaulted participants in a Gay Pride parade with a long kitchen knife. Before police could stop him, Schlissel had stabbed six of the “blasphemous” marchers, one of whom – a sixteen-year-old girl – later died from her wounds.

Schlissel claimed he was acting on behalf of the Torah – which forbids homosexual intercourse – but an Internet poll conducted by the ultra-Orthodox Kikar Shabbat website found that only 13% of respondents believed ultra-Orthodox Jews owed anyone an apology for the attacks, even though the community’s leaders had long condemned gays as criminals, or worse.

Speaking for the majority, Chaim Brizel – “the sexton of a Jerusalem synagogue,” who referred to the event Schlissel ravaged as the…

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The Suicide Epidemic in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community – 76…more?

September 9, 2016

LOSTMESSIAH

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Keeping Count of the Dead…

In June of 2016, the Yeshiva World News published the article that follows. As of that week, the Orthodox community was already mourning 75 deaths.

That number has since increased by a mother, Esti Weinstein (z”l), who documented her suicide in painstaking detail. The number has grown by the Brooklyn man who hanged himself, Yakov Krausz (z”l), “whose body was discovered…in an elevator motor room.” [http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2016/07/brooklyn-man-hangs-self-26th-new-york.html] Krausz’s death had been the 26th in New York, reported. With yesterday’s news of Feige Greenwald’s (z”l) death it is hard to tell where we are in the macabre count.

In July of 2014, the New York Times picked up the Weinstein story.  The editor of the story wrote profoundly:

The level of criticism and ridicule by secular Israel on the ways and habits of the Haredi community will determine the long-term impact of Ms. Weinstein’s tragic…

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Shimon Cowan – Western Civilization, No Homosexuality, Bigotry and A Letter

September 4, 2016

LOSTMESSIAH

Shimon-Cowan

Dear LM:

I have a couple of suggestions for you about the Shimon Cowan article (“Rabbi urged to face facts about sexuality”.) The suggestions are relevant if you have the ability to amend past posts. If not, just ignore them.

  • You have posted the AJN article about the reaction to Cowan’s book as a .jpg image. I have observed that it is too small to read properly at its original size and, if you enlarge it, the resolution is too poor to read it enlarged. Why don’t you upload the pdf copy of the article (which has a much better resolution) to your site and turn the jpg image into a clickable link that can be used to download the pdf or open it in another browser tab. To facilitate that, I am attaching the pdf for you.
  • Please see my comments below:

The rabbi who is the subject…

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James Kennard: dinosaur or responsible principal?

March 22, 2016

From: Michael Barnett
Date: 22 March 2016 at 01:10
Subject: Will you break your silence on homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism?
To: James Kennard <jkennard@scopus.vic.edu.au>

Dear Principal Kennard,

Tonight I attended a Save Safe Schools rally at the State Library of Victoria.

Present at this rally was State Education Minister James Merlino, along with a range of teachers, students, parents and other concerned parties.

These people are collectively concerned about the welfare of students, and in particular, those students who experience difference in terms of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Their concern stems from credible research that shows without necessary support, there are elevated levels of suicide.  Let me repeat.  Elevated levels of suicide.

I know you are an orthodox rabbi.  You are also the principal of a school.  I know that as an orthodox rabbi who is a principal of a school you are personally conflicted, because your training as a rabbi puts you at odds with the research, sadly.  And despite this you are a signatory of the Statement of Principles, a document that could be so much more but ultimately is one that pities homosexual people and blames them for their rates of suicide.

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Rabbi James Kennard – signatory to ‘Statement of Principles’

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It’s the intolerance that’s the problem, not the homosexuality!

I am writing to you not to plead or beg for you to change your perspectives on homosexuality or related issues because that would be a complete waste of my time.

What I am writing to you is to ask you how you are making the students at your school understand how you can comfortably live with the knowledge that in not talking openly and inclusively about the the wonderful diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity, you are elevating their levels of mental illness, self harm and risk of suicide.

I know you probably don’t ask them what they think of your attitudes toward these icky issues, but trust me, many other people are talking about you and your intolerance of such diversity.  And these people are not just the parents, but also the teachers and the principals of other schools.

They are looking at you and wondering how a dinosaur like you can be in a position of authority at a prominent day school in Melbourne.  I know dinosaurs are supposed to be extinct, but someone recently discovered a Christenosaurus and a Bernardi-Rex, so it stands that a Kennarderatops could still be alive.

I’m not joking.  These dinosaurs are killing our students.  They are driving them to the depths of despair, exacerbating their anxiety levels and making life unbearable.

Personally, I’d rather not have to write this letter but if I didn’t write to you I’d feel I hadn’t made my best effort to stamp out bigotry, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Mount Scopus Memorial College.

If my dreams were to come true I’d see a response to this letter saying “But Michael, we’ve had Roz Ward come to talk to us and we’re signing up to Safe Schools tomorrow, just like King David, Bialik and Sholem Aleichem have done.  We know Safe Schools is best practices, has proven outcomes and is respected nationally.”

I’m not sure that I’ll be so lucky in my wishes, but I can hope.

This is not complicated.  Either you are committed to the best outcomes for your students or you are ripping off the parents at your school.  If you are committed to the best outcomes for your students, in terms of overall well-being, academic excellence, sporting excellence and self-respect, then unless you are talking openly and unconditionally about these issues, I’d say you’re failing the entire school community.

Except perhaps those people who believe the Torah has it right about homosexuality, the bit where we are sinners.

I’ll let you in on a secret.  I was bullied at school.  I was tormented and ridiculed.  I was scared to fucking hell of being gay, because when I had the shit kicked out of me on a regular basis, told I was a poofter and a pansy, that I was a fag and a homo, when I was scared to be creative, to be expressive, to shine as a student because that would make me gay, because I was scared I would be kicked out of home if my parents found out I was homosexual, because I had terrible anxiety through my teens and I hated every day I was alive, because I barely passed my year 12 exams because I didn’t want to excel in English because I was hiding a secret and found failure more rewarding, this was all because I had no one tell me that I was ok, that I was normal, that I was fine, that I was not a sinner, not a pervert, not an abomination, not aberrant, not broken and not deviant.

How many students at your school are openly accepted and affirmed because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex or any other configuration other than heterosexual and cis-gender?  Do you know or do you bury your head in the sand and go la-la-la-la-la?

How many same-sex marriages of past students does your school recognise in it’s newsletter?  How many rainbow families are reflected in the school’s religious program, like the shabbat service with two ima’s and/or two aba’s?  How many students are openly supported in transitioning their gender at your school?

I will confidently tell you that unless you can make a public statement that addresses all of these issues in a positive, affirmative and inclusive light, free of harmful religious rhetoric, you are failing your entire school community, your students, their families, your board and ultimately yourself.

I don’t need a lesson on halacha in reply.  I just need you to understand that every day of silence is another day you haven’t done your best to prevent the death of the next trans, bi, gay, or queer student at your school.  And if you haven’t done your best, you are not worth being the principal of any school.

What is it Principal Kennard?  Are you doing your best or are you failing everyone?

Sincerely,
Michael Barnett.

PS.  As a courtesy, I’m letting you know this letter is going online and will be distributed to a variety of people who care about the welfare of students at your school.  I want people to see the harm that is being inflicted on their students by your ongoing silence.


 

A helpful background piece on this issue can be found here along with a petition here.


 

Staggering to see Principal James Kennard ‘like’ a post on Facebook questioning the merit of the Safe Schools program.  He has since reversed the ‘like’ on the post, but that he liked it in the first place is unfathomable for someone of his standing.


 

A selection of my photos from the Save Safe Schools rally at the State Library of Victoria and down Swanston Street:

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Protesting the cuts to the Safe Schools programme

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James Merlino, Minister for Education

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Protesting the cuts to the Safe Schools programme

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Nevo Zisin and others protesting the cuts to the Safe Schools programme


Bill Muehlenberg publishes libellous comment by David Clay calling for death of Early Childhood Australia’s staff

March 8, 2016

On March 6 2016 Bill Muehlenberg published an article attacking Early Childhood Australia under the heading “Get Your Hands Off Our Children”:

20160306 Get Your Hands Off Our Children - Bill Muehlenberg

Bill enforces a strict moderation regime on his site, only permitting comments to appear through a manual approval process.

The following comment by David Clay, time-stamped 9am March 6 2016, appeared under the article:

20160306 David Clay Bill Muehlenberg death comment

By 10:05am on March 8 2016 this comment had been removed:

A follow-up article by Bill Muehlenberg attacking Early Childhood Australia has since appeared under the heading The Sexual Anarchists Targeting Our Children.

Will Bill allow more calls for the death of innocent citizens?


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