By Kath Gelber
SYDNEY — Photocopies of the Fact and Fantasy File were enthusiastically received at Sydney Girls High school on March 6. Distributed by the radical youth organisation Resistance, the diaries were welcomed by a large crowd of students who expressed anger at the government's "stupid" effort to suppress the diary.
The diary contains non-judgmental information about sex, safe sex and sexuality for young people. It was produced by the Family Planning Association in conjunction with a group of high school students and is accessible and highly informative. This has aroused the ire of Fred Nile, Nick Greiner and Paul Keating, among others.
Hundreds of students crowded around the stall, wanting to sign the petition against the banning of the diary, and buying copies for themselves and their friends. Some teachers also expressed support for the action.
The students spoke confidently to the media who were present, saying they felt the diary provided important and necessary information to students who often had no alternative, unbiased source of information.
The diaries quickly sold out, and more stalls have been planned in coming weeks around Australia to ensure further distribution.
In Adelaide on March 12 there will be a stall at Marion High School. In Melbourne there will be stalls at University High on March 11 and at McRobbinson High on the 12th. In Sydney there will be a stall at Fort Street High on March 10. Resistance plans to distribute the diary in other cities as well.
A spokesperson for Resistance, Zanny Begg, said "the positive response to the diary illustrates the real need that young people have for information on sex and sexuality. Young people often don't know who to talk to about sex, and the diary is a good way of providing us with this information.
"The diary has been labelled smutty and dirty. This entirely misses the point. The information in the diary is candid, but that is what young people want. If you are going to educate people about safe sex, you cannot talk in euphemisms.
"Resistance has always campaigned for the protection of young people's democratic rights and is therefore determined to continue distributing copies of the diary", she said. "We will campaign against the attacks on young people's initiatives. We will campaign for the freedom for young people to make decisions about our own lives."