Statement on the NSW Government Decision on the Parental Rights Bill
The DOVES Council welcomes the New South Wales’ Government’s decision to not support the Education Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020.
The council, as a representative of student voice, finds the bill to be not only unworkable, but also harmful to students within the education system. The council stands on the belief that each student is deserving and entitled to a fair, equal and meaningful education, and the implementation of this bill would serve against this purpose.
While the council recognises and supports the vital role that parents play in the education of their children, we do not find this bill and its exceptionally broad definition of “parental primacy” to be the proper means to achieve and recognise parents’ role. The council commends the Department of Education’s initiatives to extend parents’ involvement in the education of their children, including (but not limited to) the Student and Parent Experience Directorate.
DOVES also agree with the position that the bill would place an impossible burden on teachers, councillors and school staff, and detract from their role as supporting individual students.
The council recognises the active harm the legislation may cause on students within the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly on transgender students. We welcome the government’s decision to implement these aspects of the bill within departmental policy. We firmly stand in support of students who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and under no circumstance should they, or any other student, be excluded from our understanding of “each student” in providing a fair, equal and meaningful education.
We must recognise that the danger is not in teaching students ideologies and varying perspectives, but rather in teaching students a singular one. The underlying dogmatic beliefs established by these singular viewpoints would not allow students to engage critically with the world. The bill’s attempt to ensure teaching is non-ideological expands far too broadly as to restrict the ability of teachers to teach. Fundamentals of Australian society, notions as simple as democracy, are ideologies, and the bill’s broad-spectrum definition could even prevent the teaching of this, should the bill’s provisions be followed to its truest and fullest extent.
The council would like to thank the NSW government for considering the student voice in their decision. Students should be the first and foremost concern of any education system, and their needs balanced and working alongside those teachers, parents and other members of the school community. This has been a major milestone of student voices in their own education.
As the Legislative Council proceeds to debate the bill, DOVES urge (in the interest of the education system and students, parents, teachers and other staff), that all members stand against the bill, and that students and student voice remain a paramount concern on matters regarding education.
Farzam Zaher, Year 12, Smith’s Hill High School
On behalf of the Department of Student Voices in Education and Schools
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