Sydney parents alarmed by radical gender theory at Catholic all-girls school

Over 200 parents are threatening to pull their daughters from Santa Sabina College in Strathfield as new information has come to light regarding its principal, Dr Maree Herrett. According to the Daily Telegraph, the principal is a proponent of radical gender theory, a fact which came to light late February after launching new ‘gender expressive’ school uniforms:

The elite Catholic school in Strathfield has been in uproar since Herrett linked the concept of gender fluidity to the introduction last month of trousers into the school uniform, saying it was about enabling, “a variety of gender expression” and making students who questioned their gender identity “more comfortable”.

Although the school is a Catholic institution – meaning that it is expected to uphold traditional values – Dr Herrett has introduced various initiatives designed to implement radical gender theory.

The uniform change spurred further research by parents who found that this issue was merely the tip of the iceberg. The Daily Telegraph reports that angry parents shared all sorts of discoveries and concerns, including:

  • Dr Herretts involvement in the Alliance of Girls Schools (AGSA), which supports girls transitioning to boys at single-sex schools, facilitates talks at girls schools on topics such as neurogender/neurofeminismand gender beyond biological determinism, by speakers who dispute the link between biological sex, sexual preference and gender identity. AGSA also has promoted through social media the teaching of anal sex at girls schools;
  • Her appearance at an AGSA conference as an expert on transgender and gender identity;
  • Primary students being given gender fluidity books, which were removed from the library for review after parents complained;

Hundreds of concerned parents and students – including many whose students attended the school in the past – held a protest meeting the weekend following the uniform announcement, demanding that Dr Herrett resign. Although upset about the gender education that seeped into the curriculum, much of the outrage stemmed from the fact that parents had neither been notified nor asked for consent.

However, despite the efforts of students and parents alike, the school board seems to be backing Dr Herrett:

The school board responded to complaints on Monday by issuing a letter to parents saying it “remains in full support of Dr Herrett and that the media coverage has not accurately represented whether the [uniform] change and comments by Dr Herrett are linked to what some may consider is gender education.

The school appointed a crisis management firm to discuss the issue with alarmed parents. However, as one parent expressed, this move was more like a ‘divide and conquer’ method than crisis management.  The ‘crisis management’ team would hear from only a small number of parents:

The board also appointed crisis management firm Australian Public Affairs to conduct 12 one-hour focus group sessions over four days with no more than eight parents in each group and produce a report by mid-April.

One of the great outcomes of the recent marriage debate was that parents are much more aware of the threat of gender ideology in schools. As soon as Santa Sabina parents saw these themes creeping into their school, they raised the alarm and told the school that they would not stand for it. It remains to be seen whether or not the school will listen to them, but they fail to heed the pleas of concerned parents at their peril.

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