Queensland One Nation leader Steve Dickson has defended false claims he made that primary school children are taught how to masturbate and use sex toys as part of the Safe Schools program.
On Saturday, Mr Dickson pledged to “abolish the program” if his party gets elected, adding: “We are having little kids in grade four at school, these are young girls being taught by teachers how to masturbate, how to strap-on dildos, how to do this sort of stuff. That’s the real problem in this country.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk slammed Dickson’s comments as “absolutely atrocious” and “complete and utter nonsense.”
“I have spoken to the Education Minister. Safe Schools is not taught in the classroom. Support is given to teachers and also to families,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Saturday.
“I don’t want to see any young person in our classrooms bullied or intimidated and I don’t want to see a young person harm themselves either and that is why the principals, teachers and the families support one another.
“I am absolutely lost for words that someone would dare say such things that are simply and utterly not true.”
In a statement on Monday, Dickson stood by his call to abolish the program in Queensland schools but apologised “if the specific words I used offended anyone.”
The erroneous “dildo” claim had been relayed to him by the parent of a Year 4 student, he said.
“I make no apology for One Nation’s policy to remove the controversial Safe Schools program from Queensland classrooms,” he said.
“It was never my intention to offend our educators who I have the greatest respect for.
“No child should be bullied at school for any reason, but this program is not an anti-bullying program.”
The federally-funded Safe Schools Coalition Australia’s stated aim is “to help school staff create safer and more inclusive environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, school staff and families.”
The program’s resources were made available to schools across the country on an optional basis only.
The only in-classroom Safe Schools resource relating to gender and sexual diversity, All of Us, is for use in secondary school and was last year deemed “age-appropriate and educationally sound” by a panel of education experts.
The Safe Schools program’s federal funding ended in June, and in Queensland in October.
Unlike in other states, neither the Queensland Labor government nor LNP opposition have supported any continued funding for the program, despite claims to the contrary made by One Nation earlier in the election campaign.
A Labor spokesperson told AAP last month it would be up to individual schools and their principals to work with parents and their school communities to determine the “most appropriate programs to meet the needs of their students.”
LNP education spokesperson Tracy Davis told Fairfax Media in September the party would withdraw from the “ideologically-driven” Safe Schools and develop an alternative anti-bullying program if elected.
All of the Safe Schools resources are available to view on the Department of Education and Training’s Student Wellbeing Hub here.