Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been criticized for stating that Australian schools do not need "gender whisperers" in response to a report that teachers are taught how to detect potentially transgender students.
"We do not need gender whisperers in our schools, let kids be kids," Mr. Morrison tweeted and posted on Facebook on Wednesday morning, in response to a Daily Telegraph article.
The article stated that NSW teachers were taught how to identify children who might be questioning their gender, after an "increase" in the number of children identified as trans.
"Teachers are taught to detect possible transgender students in the classroom, and experts say the measure has contributed to a 236 percent increase in the number of children who want to change sex in the last three years," he said. the newspaper News Corp. informed.
The report stated that Sydney schools had invited gender identity experts to public and private primary and secondary schools "under the guise of developing professional standards" to educate teachers on how to identify such students.
But the counselor and gender specialist, Dr. Elizabeth Riley, who was quoted in the article, said Mr. Morrison was out of place.
"Letting children be children, that's exactly what we're doing … and a lot of that is letting the children be themselves," he told SBS News on Wednesday.
While some Facebook users agreed with Mr. Morrison's comments on his Facebook page, many have been criticized on social media.
"Our prime minister is now targeting vulnerable children, and the good teachers who support them, in this tedious and hateful cultural war," wrote writer Benjamin Law.
The same-sex marriage advocate and Change.org executive director Sally Rugg tweeted Mr. Morrison's tweet with the caption "one in two transgender children who do not receive support from their schools and families try to commit suicide" .
The Greens have also pointed to Mr. Morrison, claiming that he has "done everything possible to demonize young LGBTIQ people".
"Well, I have news for the prime minister, some children are transgender Some children are gay, lesbian, bisexual Some children question their gender or sexuality and they must be supported by their families, communities, schools and their representatives in parliament" said Green Senator Janet Rice.
The comments come after Mr. Morrison revealed on Monday that he sent his children to a private Christian school in part because of a public school program aimed at reducing levels of sexual assault and gender violence.
Dr. Riley said she was not employed by the Department of Education, as stated in the article, and that she had only worked with NSW schools after a child identified as transgender.
"I speak with them [schools] about gender identity, what gender is, and how gender is just a way of seeing ourselves, "he said.
Dr. Riley, who has been working and counseling transgender youth and their families for more than 20 years, said she had never been called to show teachers how to detect a trans student and that she had only worked with schools after a student became transgender.
The NSW Department said it did not hire Dr. Riley.
"The Department of Education is committed to providing safe and supportive learning environments for all staff and students," the department said in a statement issued Wednesday.
"Students who need support for any reason will receive it in NSW public schools." Schools consult with the student and their parents or caregivers when planning a student's needs.
"Occasionally, parents and caregivers will have opted to seek the support of other professionals and / or agencies such as NSW Health to support their children." In response to a request from parents, the department will work with other agencies and support services. by case to support the specific needs of individual students, including sensitive health problems. "