Roz Ward, the hardline Marxist behind the contentious Safe Schools program, has been appointed to a high-level committee advising the Victorian government on education issues.
With the taxpayer-funded sexual and gender diversity program having become a hot election issue, after the Greens and Labor pledged to boost funding, the Andrews Labor government appears increasingly committed to pushing an LGBTI agenda in the schoolyard.
Ms Ward, already a director of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, has joined the education reference group set up to provide advice on the government’s LGBTI education priorities and identify new ways to improve equality for gay and transgender youth in schools.
The group comes under the mantle of the government’s LGBTI Taskforce, co-chaired by leading transgender activist Brenda Appleton, which provides direct advice to Equality Minister Martin Foley.
While the taskforce membership was announced in September, the make-up of its education reference group has not been publicly disclosed. But Ms Ward’s role is detailed on the website of La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society, where she works.
Ms Ward, an academic with a degree in gender studies, has become the controversial face of the Safe Schools movement, largely due to her extreme Left political views; including publicly linking the program to a broader Marxist push to liberate society from “gender constructs”.
She has also shown some contempt for parents who harbour concerns about the program, which preaches a politically correct approach to sex education and an extreme and contested gender ideology.
Ms Ward has previously conceded that Safe Schools was not an anti-bullying program, but rather a means to promote sexual and gender diversity.
She has advised school principals that they could dismiss parental concerns about the program with a “tough luck”.
And despite having no education qualifications, she has taught elements of the program, designed for the Years 7 and 8 curriculums, to Year 3 children.
A communique from the LGBTI Taskforce’s meeting last month, which was posted on the Victorian government’s website last week, reveals that the education reference group recently met for the first time.
It discussed aspects of the school curriculum, including the contentious Respectful Relationships program and the implementation of the Catching on Early resource.
Written with input from the La Trobe University research centre, Catching on Early is a 200-page guide for primary schools that touches on gender theory and contains a lesson on “IVF, surrogacy and other assisted-conception treatments”.
A government spokeswoman confirmed Ms Ward’s appointment to the group, which is still being finalised.
A spokeswoman defended the Catching On Early program as “an evidence-based and optional resource, founded on research into sexuality education”. She said it was not compulsory in any school.
Ms Ward did not respond to a request to comment.