“The Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton was reminded in a discussion on same-sex marriage on the ABC’s Q&A program that he had said: “The fact is, every child in the same-sex structure has been taken from its biological mother or father”.
Gay activist and medical practitioner Professor Kerryn Phelps – who has three children with her partner Jackie Stricker – looked horrified and replied to Shelton: “You know what you are saying is complete nonsense?”
The audience at Docklands Studios in Melbourne cheered Prof Phelps as the questions ranged from the $8 million Safe Schools anti-bullying program to the proposed referendum for same-sex marriage.
Shelton and Dr Phelps crossed swords earlier when the Australian Christian Lobby managing director agreed with the concern of Cella White, who said she was removing her daughter from Frankston High School because of the content of the Safe Schools program.
“I have no religious affiliation, but I believe it is biology that defines what sex you are, not radical gender theory. I did not feel comfortable with my daughter sharing rest rooms or PE change rooms with the boys who wish to identify as girls and withdrew her enrolment into Year 7 this year.”
Shelton said that “the Safe Schools material itself asks schools to change their bathroom policy to allow boys who identify as girls to be in the same bathroom as young girls and also to share accommodation on school camps. It says that gender is not uniform with a picture of a boy wearing a girl’s school uniform. A lot of parents would be rightly concerned about this, that this goes way beyond an anti-bullying program.”
Shelton went on to say that a reputable study showed that up to 80 per cent of children unhappy with their gender, if left alone with no intervention, embraced their biological sex eventually.
”My concern is by introducing this sort of thing, we might create even more confusion among young people, particularly the more extreme things promoted by Minus 18 which Safe Schools says they must have access to. If a kid becomes infertile because of penis tucking or does damage because of the chest binding, these things are extreme.“
Prof Phelps wondered if anyone had met a transgender child.
“It’s not an easy road. The whole idea of the Safe Schools program is to ease the way for people regardless of where they end up in terms of their gender, for the other people around them to treat them with respect and kindness and compassion and empathy. These are human values. In terms of what medical path these people take, there is an enormous amount of counseling that goes into this, an enormous amount of psychological help until everybody is satisfied that the right option for this individual, at the correct age for them, to go through a transitioning process. That really isn’t the role of the Safe Schools program at all. The role of the Safe Schools program is to respect an individual at whatever particular state of their development, psychologically and physically, they are at that particular time. It’s not up to a Safe Schools program or the schools indeed to be teaching anything about outcomes for adult transgender individuals. I think that quoting these sorts of statistics is really unhelpful in this environment.”
Janet White asked the panel as then Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave a national apology for forced adoption in 2013, why is the Government thinking about legislation for same-sex marriage, where if two men marry they may start a motherless family.
Liberal MP Bruce Billson said he was concerned about a plebiscite and felt it might create greater divisions in society.
Prof Phelps was incensed when Shelton answered a question from Georgia Weymouth-Large, who is in a family with the same-sex parents.
“I live with my younger brother and my two mums who have been together for 32 years now. The proposed plebiscite has the potential to cause a great deal of harm to families like mine and the LGBT plus community. A public debate will give the religious right an excuse to attack us.”
Shelton said that same-sex marriage was wrong as “every child in the same-sex structure has been taken from its biological mother or father”.
“What’s it got to do with marriage?” asked Prof Phelps. “Two 18-year-olds in the back seat of a borrowed car can procreate. Doesn’t have anything to do with marriage or parenting ability. Nothing whatsoever. The foster system, the child protection system, the Human Rights Commissioner said the child protection system is overwhelmed with cases of children, from biological parents, that they cannot cope with the number of children who have to be removed because of abuse or neglect from this idealised family you talk about. I have people in my family who married in their 70s. Procreation has got absolutely nothing to do with them. You can get married and not have children. You can have children and not get married. The two things you are trying to link when, in fact, they don’t really have very much to do with each other.”
“I am married in the US, it is not recognised in Australia yet, I have three children, it is none of your business how they came about, frankly.” said Prof Phelps.”