Scott Morrison
FILE PHOTO: The new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends a news conference in Canberra, Australia August 24, 2018. Reuters/David Gray/File Photo

Scott Morrison has been criticised for his “gender whisperers” tweet about trans students. The Australian prime minister was responding to a newspaper article about teachers being trained to identify transgender children in the classroom, which he thought was unnecessary.

An article in the Daily Telegraph notes that public and private schools had asked gender identity experts to educate teachers on identifying transgender students. Morrison responded to the publication’s tweet claiming it was a pointless move.

“We do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids,” he wrote.

Dr Elizabeth Riley, who was quoted in the article, told SBS that Morrison failed to understand how they were trying to help the children.

“Let kids be kids? That’s exactly what we are doing… and a lot of that is letting of that is letting children be themselves.”

Dr Riley said that she had only worked with NSW schools after a child had identified as transgender, contrary to what the Daily Telegraph article stated that she was employed by the Department of Education. She has never been called in a school to show teachers how to spot a trans student. Her job, she said, was to talk to schools about gender identity.

Morrison’s comment has provoked discussions on social media, with some agreeing with him. Those who don’t, however, felt that the PM was out of line.

The NSW Department of Education said it seeks help from experts when needed, though it said it did not employ Riley.

“Students who need support for whatever reason will receive it in NSW public schools. Schools consult with the student and their parents or carers when planning for a student’s needs,” it said. “At times, parents and carers will have chosen to seek support from other professionals and/or agencies such as NSW Health to support their child. In response to a request from parents, the department will work with other agencies and support services on a case by case basis to support the specific needs of individual students, including sensitive health-related issues.”