A new school curriculum in Western Australia is being developed to encourage children to "explore" gender, an effort some say amounts to ideological indoctrination.
Both male and female students in year three in at least 10 schools in Western Australia will be given "a range of dress ups and toys" in an effort to explore gender roles and break down stereotypes, reports say. The program is also intended to teach children about ethnic and religious garments such as the burka, which is worn by women who practice the Islamic faith.
Critics maintain that the initiative is designed to sow confusion in impressionable young minds.
"It will indoctrinate children with the idea that they can choose to be a boy or a girl," said Peter Abetz of the Australian Christian Lobby, in an interview with 9News Perth.
"Why do boys need to get dressed up in girls' clothing? Let's get real about education and not trying to indoctrinate children with this gender ideology," he said.
A spokesperson from the Western Australia Department of Education would neither confirm nor deny to the Daily Mail on Wednesday whether dressing up will be part of the 2019 gender education program, stating that the "curriculum is still being developed."
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison is among the critics.
"I don't want the values of others being imposed on my children in my school and I don't think that should be happening in a public school or a private school," he said in a recent radio interview.
His remarks come amid growing concerns that gender identity ideology has become entrenched in the education system in the past three years as the number of children wanting to change their sex has reportedly surged 236 percent.
In September, a report emerged where teachers were being trained to identify potential transgender students under the guise of "professional standards development."
"It involves teachers learning to identify key phrases such as 'I feel different,' 'I’m androgynous' and 'I’m born with two spirits,' indicating transgender leanings in students as young as 5," the Daily Telegraph (Australia) explained.
Morrison said at the time: "We do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids."
Meanwhile, proponents insist that the new program in Western Australia — which is called "Respect Relationships" — is important in order to implement cultural change in attitudes and about family and domestic violence.
"By introducing respectful relationships in schools, we can continue to implement cultural changes in attitudes toward family and domestic violence," said Simone McGurk, the minister for prevention of family and domestic violence, adding that "early intervention" is "critical" in stopping it.
For students in year nine the curriculum outlines teachers discussing with students different types of sexual relationships including "hooking up," the "bootie call," "friends with benefits," and the "one night stand," 9 News Perth reported.
"A year nine resource suggests teachers ask groups of students to decide whether they regard various activities — including sexting, rubbing nipples, touching genitals and anal sex — as 'sex' or 'not sex,'" according to a Saturday report from Perth Now.
It isn't just Christians and social conservatives who oppose these types of programs aimed at children. Natasha Chart, the board chair of the radical feminist group Women’s Liberation Front, argues in an essay published by The Federalist that just because girls like to wear trousers it doesn't mean they should be encouraged to identify as the opposite sex.
"As if being a girl is liking dresses," Chart says. "Girls don’t always like dresses, and some of us strongly dislike them. If liking dresses is enough to make a boy 'really' a girl, is disliking them enough to make a girl 'really' a boy?"
She continued, "Have people who wonder if being comfortable in a 'dress' means someone is a girl ever seen a depiction of Jesus Christ wearing robes in any painting from the last several hundred years? Have they seen depictions of the Egyptian pharaohs in the many paintings and statues that survive from that ancient monarchy?
"Is the male use of the Javanese sarong a gender identity message? The Scottish kilt? The Roman toga? The Japanese kimono? The Saudi thaub?"