UPDATE: Federal members voice conerns over 'Safe Schools'
STOPPING teenagers from taking their own lives would have been one of the main benefits of the recently gutted Safe Schools program says Fraser Gays member Sally Cripps.
But former Deputy Prime Minister and Federal member for the Wide Bay Warren Truss says the program as it is does not belong in Fraser Coast schools and should be rewritten.
Ms Cripps from Fraser Coast LGBTIQ group, Fraser Gays, said the program was important because it provided young people with "a safe place to go".
"Many kids haven't come out at this stage, can't discuss it with others or family, and are in complete turmoil," Sally said.
"Since school is a place of learning, this program sits well in this forum.
"If education is uniformly given, fear and lack of knowledge is replaced with understanding, and in most cases respect."
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, 80% of homophobic bullying occurs in schools.
While Sally hopes the program would build respect of all students in schools, Mr Truss said parts of the current Safe Schools program seemed to be more about sexuality rather than bullying.
"The material refers children to websites which include information totally unsuited for children, though I understand some of these references have recently been deleted," Mr Truss said.
"There are also serious concerns about the actions, including political advocacy, of some of the participating organisations."
Sally said to have the program removed from the schools would take away guidance and help for many young people who needed it during their schooling.
"To ignore the facts and dilute this program or remove it is detrimental to the kids," she said.
"If we lose programs like this, kids…won't get their chance to live and be them, they will suicide."
Federal member for Hinkler Keith Pitt while students facing personal issues deserved to be supported and have access to information and advice, he believed no student should be confronted with "information or material that is inappropriate for their age".
"I had a number of parents contact my office with concerns about the content of the Safe Schools program," Mr Pitt said.
"As a parent myself, I understand their concerns.
"Parents should be able to have confidence in what is being taught in their child's school and receive clear information about what is being taught."
If this story has raised concerns for you, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyondblue on 1300 224 636.
WHAT IS THE SAFE SCHOOLS PROGRAM?
The program is designed to educate students from Years 5 to 12 to combat bullying in schools, especially of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
It is created by Minus18, a website funded by the Victorian Government, and includes articles such as What's Gender All About, Coming Out, How Can You Tell? and Faith & Culture.