Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has become the latest politician to criticise the Safe Schools program.
The taxpayer-funded program, aimed at helping LGBTI school students, is under review after a number of Coalition MPs expressed concerns.
Mr Abbott, whose government helped launch the program, told News Corp on Tuesday its funding should be axed.
“It’s not an anti-bullying program, it’s a social engineering program,” he said.
“Its funding should be terminated.”
Coalition frontbencher Ken Wyatt said that Mr Abbott was entitled to make the comment, but told media that he had no problem with the program.
Mr Wyatt said he had read the Safe Schools material and called for level heads to prevail.
“Parents need to be informed that the school is implementing those programs and they should have the right to make a decision,” he said.
“But equally there are people who are caught in those stages of their emotional development where they want to make decisions based on information.”
Education Minister Simon Birmingham in February wrote to state and territory education ministers, asking them to confirm that parents are being consulted before schools introduce the scheme.
The review of the program’s material and its use is expected to be completed within the fortnight, little more than a year before its $8 million funding agreement with the Commonwealth expires.
The review has sparked heated debate both between and within major parties, prompting a warning from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for “measured language”.
Labor Senator Penny Wong, whose colleague Joe Bullock has backed the review, today slammed the “nasty debate”.
Ms Wong told the ABC that she did not envision fair-minded people taking issue with the program when she helped secure its funding in 2013.
“I didn’t think people would have such an issue with their children being taught acceptance and tolerance,” she said.
“The extent to which the hard right will go to perpetuate their views and frankly their prejudices has been a sight to behold … fundamentally, I hope most parents would be of the view that we should teach our children tolerance. That’s not a bad thing, to teach kids empathy.”