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ANTI-BULLYING ACTIVISTS TARGETING KIDS IN SCHOOL

An anti-bullying project with ties to the controversial Safe Schools program, whose founders are active in LGBTI advocacy, has been accused by Christian lobbyists of launching a recruitment drive for “child political activists and ideologues”.  Project Rockit, an enterprise that runs workshops in primary and secondary schools, recently attracted a $1 million grant from Facebook to help train 10,000 students across 600 schools to tackle bullying online and in schools.  The program, founded by Melbourne sisters Lucy and Rosie Thomas has already reached more than 200,000 students, and its work has attracted support from the Foundation for Young Australians to UNICEF.

However, the group’s active role in sexuality and gender politics, largely via social media, has drawn the attention of the Australian Christian Lobby, which has expressed concern about young people being exposed to its activism.  Project Rockit’s lead program director, Danielle Weber, is a drag performer who goes by the name Dani Boi.  When the self-described “dragtavist” announced the new anti-bullying role in an Instagram post in July, a message was posted saying the group was “advocating for the dismantling of white / cis / hetero / patriarchal supremacy and normativity”.

Project Rockit’s Facebook page, which has close to 40,000 followers, shows it to be an advocate for LGBTI rights, posting photos from the Midsumma Pride March last year and advocating for marriage equality.  The group also frequently videos and takes images promoting contentious gender theory, the belief that multiple gender identities exist on a spectrum beyond simply male and female, which was central to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program that was opposed by Christian groups and conservative politicians.  According to Project Rockit’s website, the group works with Safe Schools and Minus 18, which co-authored some of Safe School’s classroom resources.

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles said anti-bullying was an important cause, but those behind Project Rockit appeared to have an “ideological, political agenda”. “Most parents would be outraged if they understood the politics of these so-called anti-bullying initiatives,” he said.  “Activists are given a blank cheque and open access to confuse kids with gender-bending and sexualised ideas.  Not only are these groups confusing other people’s kids but they have $1m to make them into child political activists and ideologues.”

Project Rockit chief executive Lucy Thomas defended the program, saying its only aim was to ensure that young people felt safe and included in society and was not an LGBTI organisation,” she said.  “We deal with cyber safety, promoting online safety.  It’s very difficult to address these without addressing homophobia, racism and ableism.”  Ms Thomas acknowledged that, given the political landscape, comments on diversity and inclusion could potentially be interpreted as political statements.  “But I wouldn’t say we go in and talk about politically charged messages, it would detract from our message.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports