Benjamin Law and Mary Lou Rasmussen will be in conversation on Benjamin's new Quarterly Essay, Sexuality, Schools and the Media, which asks "Are Australian schools safe?" And if they're not, what happens when kids are caught in a bleak collision between ill-equipped school staff and a confected media scandal?
In 2016 the Safe Schools program became the centre of an ideological firestorm. Benjamin Law explores 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. Looking at the perils for those of uncertain or shamed sexual identity, and bullying of the vulnerable young, Benjamin Law brings to light hidden worlds, in an essay notable for its humane clarity.
Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based TV screenwriter, journalist and newspaper columnist, who has a PhD in creative writing and cultural studies. He's the author of two books, both of which have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards, The Family Law (2010), also a major SBS TV series written by written by Law and Marieke Hardy, and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012).
He also co-authored the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis. Benjamin is a frequent contributor to Good Weekend (The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age), Frankie and The Monthly.
Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen is Professor of Sociology in the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. Her research focuses on building transdisciplinary understandings of sexuality education across diverse lifeworlds. She is an investigator on the Queer Generations project, funded by the Australian Research Council, exploring the experiences of two different groups of LGBTQ people growing up in Australia: those born in the 1970s and those born in the 1990s.
Mary Lou Rasmussen has authored numerous books, including Becoming Subjects: Sexualities and Secondary Schooling (2006) and Progressive Sexuality Education: The Conceits of Secularism (2016). She has also co-edited, Youth and Sexualities: Pleasure, Subversion and Insubordination in and out of Schools (2004) and The Handbook of Sexuality Education (2016).
Book signings will take place at 6pm before the conversation and then again after. This event is free.
Benjamin Law © 2012 Paul Harris