Ross Featherston: “At Brighton Grammar boys who are bullied should harden the fuck up”

May 17, 2016



Bullying: helping your son be the victor, not the victim

As a resilience coach I am adamant that, in any bullying situation, you must own your part of the problem, no matter how small, no matter how unfair it may seem. No one is lily-white and blameless.

As a wise person once said – you must clean up your side of the street.

Earlier this year, I employed a gardener to do some work in our backyard. For 2.5 hours he worked but stopped many times to chat to me. In a short period I heard his life story – his marriage breakup, how his children were not talking to him, how he lost everything, how he had a breakdown, how he doesn’t have many friends, how hard it was to find a girlfriend. His life narrative was all negative and I heard not one moment of self-reflection or the taking of responsibility. He also asked not one question about my life. Such self-absorption may explain a lot.

This gardener was a bore. He was no people magnet.

Importantly, he appeared to take no responsibility for his situation. So, nothing for him will change.

You can only change what you are prepared to acknowledge.

If your son is currently being bullied, in the spirit of cleaning up your side of the street:

  • Is he part of the problem? Even 5%?
  • Is he a whinger, a complainer, self-absorbed, an exaggerator, loose with the truth, a passive doormat, displaying negative body language, an approval addict, a try hard, critical or a bad sport?

Of course, you might say but how can my son clean up his side of the street if he is the target of cruel taunts because he has buck teeth, acne, a disability or a lisp. That’s not his fault.

Of course, it’s not his fault, but owning his small part of the unpleasant problem may be learning to stand up for himself, developing grit, steely self-belief, strong self-esteem, choosing his friends wisely and reminding himself that the bullies are dealing with their own demons and that the problem lies principally with them and not him.

After having been bullied myself for most of high school, it was only when I was brave enough and self-aware enough to ‘own’ my part of the problem that the bullying stopped. I earned respect whilst building self-respect.

Time to own your part, and stop playing the victim.

Be the victor, not the victim.

Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School.

Brighton Grammar is hosting a FREE PARENT SEMINAR featuring Melissa Anderson, exploring the issue of bullying including coping skills for parents and their children. Click here for bookings. 

Digital Activism: Human Rights and Equality – Talking Digital Media, Episode 11

May 3, 2016

Apology to David Werdiger

April 8, 2016

David Werdiger apology

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 <>

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?

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:


Protesting the cuts to the Safe Schools programme


James Merlino, Minister for Education


Protesting the cuts to the Safe Schools programme


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

Facebook. Cünt Of The Day.

March 16, 2016

Over the past couple of years I’ve sustained a number of increasingly harsh bans on my Facebook account as a result of reports against content that I’ve posted.

The most recent report on my account resulted in a 30 day ban on posting that went beyond any other ban against me, including sending private messages, liking posts or pages, unsubscribing from groups (that others added me to) and so on.

I try to play fair on Facebook because I don’t really want to lose my access and I don’t really want to be a problem user.

This is what Facebook took exception to most recently:


The message in question was one I sent via Twitter that was cross-posted to Facebook.  I didn’t feel this a particularly offensive message given that the words “poof” and “dyke” are in common use in Australia and given that Lyle Shelton did admit he was concerned that people might think him gay if marriage equality became a reality in Australia.

One might say that the words “poof” and “dyke” are offensive.  They can be, depending on context and who is using them, much like the word “nïgger” can be offensive.  I couldn’t get away with reasonably calling someone a nïgger as easily as an African American could.  Similarly, as a gay man I have no concern appropriately referring to myself or someone else who is gay (or who is perceived to be) as a poof.  In the right context it can even be a term of endearment.

So to my use of the words “poof” and “dyke” on Facebook, it’s hard to think Facebook actually has a problem with them:

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So if Facebook permits the use of the words “poof” and “dyke” in its groups, pages and places, what actual justification does it have for slapping a 30 day ban on my account for using these words, in a context that is factual?

Double standards Facebook?

PS.  Facebook doesn’t even seem to have a problem with the word “nïgger” appearing in it’s pages (etc):

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or “cünt”:

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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?


March 6, 2016

From: Michael Barnett
Date: 6 March 2016 at 23:23
Subject: Extreme homophobia in the Jewish community in Australia
To: Robert Goot <>
Cc: ….

Dear Robert,

I wish to remind the ECAJ that there is an extreme homophobia that exists in the Australian Jewish Community.

It’s name is Paul Winter and it’s name is Robert Weil.  These are the names of it’s public face.  There are many more names that do not dare show their face.

These people are vile humans and they claim their superior perspective.

I am sick of reading their filth and hatred toward people like me. Every time I read one of their posts I feel like vomiting.

Tonight Paul Winter has just spewed this bile:

Paul Winter says:

March 6, 2016 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm

Comparing the Nazi persecution of homosexuals to that of their persecution of Jews is false and hysterical. Homosexuals, communists and various other groups were discriminated against and were even killed. But the Nazis selected only two groups for extermination: the Jews and the Gypsies. The extermination of the Gypsies was nowhere near as thorough or as sadistic as the extermination program that Jews were subjected to.

Nobody wishes to persecute people because of their sexuality. Nobody in their right mind would want a regime to drive a person to suicide as that genius Alan Turing was. But nobody in their right mind either would acquiesce to same sex marriage or for same sex couples to raise children. That is not being homophobic, but simply recognising that we do not need to change the marriage laws in Australia where homosexuals have equal rights and that no man can be a mother nor a woman a father, role models children need to develop in a healthy way.

Complaining about a persecution that does not exist – unlike in mohammedan realms where homosexuals are publicly hanged or thrown off tall buildings – is merely a ploy to gain social goals that the LGBTIQ cohort does not need or deserve. We do not need to change to make Trotskyites deriding society as heteronormative feel comfortable. We do not need rainbow or colour me purple days at schools where students fling their difference in the face of their heterosexual peers, who then, like true cry-bullies, complain about objectors denying them a safe space. Mutual acceptance and all round respect is called for.

I have been reading Paul Winter and Robert Weil’s filth in the pages of the Australian Jewish News and on J-Wire for years and IT IS ENOUGH.

You are the head of the ECAJ and I am wondering what the fuck your responsibility is if it’s not to feed your ego and that of the other jellyfish that cannot muster up the courage to denounce extreme homophobia in the Jewish community.

Now you may guess I am angry.  Yes, I am fucking outraged.  I have been a victim of this shit for decades.

But let me go back to 1999.  That was the year that Rabbi Emeritus Ronald Lubofsky ripped me a new arsehole in the JCCV Plenum.

Let me tell you about Rabbi Emeritus Ronald Lubofsky AM.  In the 1970s this “man” used to teach bar mitzvah students at St Kilda Synagogue.  With two of his students he used to masturbate in front of them during their lessons.  These were 12 or 13 year old boys.  There may well have been more.  He took that secret to his grave.  Is he a hero of the Jewish community, this man who left me distressed in 1999 because he abused the trust I gave him and destroyed me in the most inhumane manner possible at the JCCV Plenum.

I am sick of the filth that people like Lubofsky, Weil and Winter dish up on gay people.  SICK OF THE SHIT.

Now you can delete this email, you can take legal action against me, or you can fucking show some spine.

I am over wankers like you doing sweet FA.  FUCK THE LOT OF YOU.

Speak out on those orthodox rabbis in the ORA, RCNSW and RCV who hate homosexuality and who want to deny Australians civil marriage.  Speak out on arsewipes like Winter, Weil and “Lubofsky the paedophile”.  Speak out on the bigotry, the intolerance, the hatred, the homophobia and the transphobia in the Jewish community.


Michael Barnett.

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