LGBTI students now privileged under Victorian university special entry scheme

The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) will now accept LGBTI discrimination as a difficult circumstance in its Special Entry Access Scheme for disadvantaged students seeking to enter university. The new addition is now included with other claims such as refugee status and natural disasters that provide individuals with special assistance in university admission.

The VTAC website states the following new statement within its criteria: “Discrimination on the basis of one’s own sexualities, sexual orientations, gender-identities, sex characteristics, and/or romantic identities”. It leaves one baffled as to why an entire gender and sexuality group, a minority in society, is given special treatment when it comes to university admission. The main response to that would be the presence of hardship, abuse and other negative circumstances among those who identify as LGBTI. However, logic would dictate that such circumstances would be covered by the following claim: “Abusive living environment: physical, psychological and/or emotional abuse over an extended period by a person or persons close to the applicant”. Surprisingly, it’s not. This particular claim, however, emphasises abuse caused by “persons close to the applicant”. If this renders the claim as insufficient to cover difficult circumstances that affect some LGBTI children, then what about heterosexual children who also undergo abuse from persons who are not close to them? Where is the claim to support them? The scheme also looks at bullying, as it should, however only refers to “race, religion, sexual characteristics, gender identity or sexual orientation”. What about heterosexual students in difficult circumstances who also undergo bullying? Where is the claim to assist those students? Is this not privilege on the part of LGBTI students who now have additional claims in comparison to heterosexual students? 

Regressive and divisive

So why is there special consideration for LGBTI students suffering abuse that is separate from other students undergoing the same trauma? It only makes sense that all students should be covered by the same criteria, instead of initiating a separate criterion for LGBTI students. What counts is the difficult circumstance, not the reason behind that circumstance. The revised system aims at treating such students differently simply because LGBTI students undergo abuse for different reasons in comparison to normal students. Ironically, it is this sort of regressive thinking that further divides society. 

Take political correctness. State mandated censorship and restrictions of free speech were made to appear as having good intentions. It seemed to be an attempt to curb offensive speech and promote social harmony. But this backfired. The aggressive promotion of acceptable speech and repression of “offensive” opinions only resulted in further increasing such opinions. Discouraging particular segments of the population from having or revealing particular views only resulted in further motivating those individuals to reveal those “triggering” views. The left’s attempt at preventing freedom of speech, thought and expression, mainly aimed at those in the right, proved to be pathetic, regressive and against nature.

The same concept applies here. Enacting a separate criterion for LGBTI students is not just divisive. In many people’s eyes, it can be considered as a form of privilege. After all, a gay student suffering physical abuse experiences the same circumstances as a straight student suffering physical abuse. When looking at university admission, it is the circumstance that is important, not the reason behind it, as already emphasised. But according to the VTAC, this is not the case, and the former deserves special treatment. Furthermore, having a special criterion for LGBTI students surrounds them with a negative image. It makes them appear disabled or “special”, which is surely the opposite of what the VTAC was hoping for.

This is not the first instance of LGBTI students receiving special treatment in education. Earlier this year it was revealed that the Australian Business and Community Network Scholarship Foundation offered grants to students as young as Year 10-level who identify as LGBTI. This ‘reverse discrimination’ only gained public attention after Sonia Kruger bravely labelled it so on Today Extra last month. Of course, many LGBTI students suffer from difficult circumstances. So do heterosexual students. How is it fair that a heterosexual student suffering from abuse due to a violent parent is looked at differently to a same-sex attracted student undergoing abuse for being same-sex attracted? The crux here is the presence of abuse, not the reason behind it.

These new guidelines are also dangerous. They are harmful, not beneficial, to LGBTI children. Such policies further enforce the victimhood culture that seems to engulf this nation everyday. Organisations like the VTAC are robbing children of their dignity, an act unbeknownst to the children themselves. Imagine a kid now being able to use their own sexuality to receive special treatment. It will deny children a sense of responsibility and initiative. What need is there for responsibility and honesty when you can use your own gender identity to get what you want? Why work hard when it’s easier to play the victim card?

Fairness, not privilege

The presence of special admission schemes for deserving students is an example of what makes this nation caring and humanitarian. Such schemes portray the warm hearted and well intended society that enriches this country. However, an unequal and regressive approach to such schemes is a recipe for disaster. It is divisive and will not receive public support due to the negative connotations it exerts. Let’s ensure an appropriate, efficient and fair approach to special schemes, and avoid regressive decision making that will only divide society.