18th May, 2016

The Australian Christian Lobby has called on Labor's leader, Bill Shorten, to clarify his position on the controversial Safe Schools program, saying it was concerning that the party was not ruling out reinstating elements of the program which have been pruned by Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

Lyle Shelton, the ACL's managing director, said it was concerning that Labor had not ruled out reinstating elements of the program which Mr Birmingham had pruned earlier this year.

"As the one who introduced Safe Schools in 2013, Mr Shorten needs to explain his intentions for his program should he win government," he said.

Mr Shelton also said that Mr Birmingham's recent pruning of the program - made after concerns over its content among conservative MPs - did not go far enough, saying that the program "still encourages schools to allow boys identifying as girls to use girls' toilets and change room facilities".

He said while no-one wanted to see children bullied for any reason, the program was not an anti-bullying program and quoted The Australian editor-at-large Paul Kelly from an article published today, saying that "the program, from top to bottom, is a project in gender fluidity".

Earlier this week, Mr Shelton said that the federal election would be a "referendum" on the program.

The Safe Schools Coalition, which says it has 546 member schools across Australia, says it offers resources and support to "equip staff and students with skills, practical ideas and greater confidence to lead positive change and be safe and inclusive for same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and families".

~ www.acl.org.au

- DAVID ADAMS