In 2016 the Safe Schools program became the centre of an ideological firestorm and for many today, this issue remains unresolved – an open wound for those on both sides of the debate. In Quarterly Essay 67 Benjamin Law looks at how and why this happened. He weaves a subtle, gripping account of schools today, sexuality, teenagers, new ideas of gender fluidity, tabloid media scares and mental health.

In a special Sydney Writers’ Festival event, Benjamin is joined by seasoned essayist and journalist David Marr to discuss this important new essay. Benjamin and David will explore whether Australian schools are, in fact, safe as well as the perils for those of uncertain or shamed sexual identity, and bullying of the vulnerable young. They will also consider what happens when kids are caught in a bleak collision between ill-equipped school staff and a confected media scandal.


Benjamin Law (Australian)

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Benjamin Law is a journalist, columnist, TV screenwriter and author of two books – The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012). Both were nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards. The Family Law is now an AACTA-nominated TV series for SBS.

David Marr (Australian)

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David Marr is the author of Patrick White: A Life, Panic, The High Price of Heaven and Dark Victory (with Marian Wilkinson). He has written for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Saturday Paper, The Guardian Australia and The Monthly. He has been editor of the National Times, a reporter for Four Corners and presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch. He is the author of five bestselling Quarterly Essays.