A Halls Head College teacher quit his job on Wednesday in a bid to be elected to the senate for one of Australia’s oldest and most controversial political parties.
Fernando Bove said he made the decision to leave his job and run for parliament because of the worry he feels for his students and his own children, after a spate of recent self-harm incidents among teens at his school.
He said he was concerned because children especially are “headed down a path of moral chaos”.
“Because I'm a father, because I'm a teacher, it affects me greatly as well and I fear for the future of our kids,” he said.
“I can see there is such confusion in the minds of the younger generation, they're even confused about what I grew up to understand as very clear cut issues, about who we are and what our purpose might be, and where our future is going to take us.”
Before embarking on his career as a teaching, Mr Bove – who is of Italian descent – studied philosophy in Rome, but was born in Perth and grew up in Busselton.
He is the lead candidate for the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), which was formed in 1955 after Catholics who were protesting the influence of communists inside Labor were expelled from the party.
Until the 1970s, the DLP exercised the balance of power in federal politics.
More than half a century later, the DLP only managed to elect one senator from Victoria at the last election, but the party is looking to extend its reach across the country on July 2.
Mr Bove said one of his chief concerns was over the controversial Safe Schools program, which he said would put the mental health of teens at risk.
“Are we doing them a service by saying you can be whatever sexual identity you want?” he said.
“There's nothing shameful in being a man, there's nothing shameful in being a woman.
“This will throw them [teenagers] completely off reality, they won't understand who or what they are, next they'll turn out to say they’re not even human, they're dogs or aliens.”
However, Greens candidate for Canning Aeron Blundell-Camden said the best way to improve the mental health of teenagers was to legislate to allow gay marriage.
“It's not just an ideological thing, we're actually talking about the health and well-being of people and young people and I'm really concerned about that and young kids, whether they're gay, lesbian, transgender, or whether they're questioning that, that they feel completely included in society,” he said.
“There is a higher incidence of mental illness and higher incidence of drug and alcohol problems in the gay and lesbian population and when there's legislative inequality, that's obviously a factor.”
But Mr Bove said teenagers were being confused about their sexuality.
“What society is trying to do is suspend that natural reality to say, you can be anything you want,” he said.
“Shouldn't we be saying, realise that you are of this gender and learn to cope with that?”
The federal election will be held on July 2.