Rabbi Cowen criticizes anti-bullying programs, NTEU Monash branch responds
A controversy concerning statements by someone representing himself as Monash adjunct arose recently. Staff within the Faculty of Education quickly circulated a response critiquing the article. The NTEU Monash Branch makes the following statement in response to Rabbi Cowen's comments.
In an article recently published in the Australian Family Association journal, Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen who claimed to be an "Adjunct of Monash University" writes that the real goal of the homosexual "anti-bullying" program for schools is "the teaching and validation of homosexual behaviour at the early stages of child education". He further argues that homosexual behaviour is a moral wrong
Rabbi Cowen´s is essentially claiming that the homosexual "anti-bullying" program for schools has an agenda hidden behind the overt purpose of eliminating bullying behaviour.
This is a deplorable claim for two reasons: Firstly, because it seeks to discredit a program aimed at protecting vulnerable young people in our community. Secondly, because it validates the discriminatory attitudes on which the bullying behaviour overtly relies for its justification.
Even accepting that Rabbi Cowen himself agrees it is unmistakably clear to "all good and reasonable" people that "the bullying of a child on any grounds is reprehensible and must be stopped", arguing that homosexuality is abnormal behaviour undermines any anti-discriminatory message he purports to convey.
The Monash Branch of the NTEU stands together with members of the Faculty of Educations and others in our University who firmly believe that we need to be accepting of the wide variety of sexualities that are manifest in the normal relationships between people in our community. Bullying and exclusion - whether by schoolchildren or by rabbis, or indeed by anyone else - needs to be combated. Regardless of religious laws or attitudes, it is vital our community become places of inclusivity and belonging.