'Safe schools are saving lives'

A year ago, Briella Charmichael's name was Baylin and she was a 5 year-old boy.

It is an early gender transition made possible by the controversial Safe Schools program, which teaches acceptance of transgender and homosexuality.

While many parents disagree with the decision to allow Briella to go through this change, it is hard to argue that Scott and Kiera's little boy was very unhappy in his skin.

"When your child comes to you and says to you "I am born in the wrong body', am I meant to crush my child every day and say "you were born this gender, no you can't live the gender you feel inside," Kiera said.

"What type of parent would do that?"

Briella's life changed when she was able to embrace her true identity

With a daughter already, the couple was thrilled when they learned Baylin was on the way, but for as long as they can remember Baylin was different.

Baylin dressed as Cinderella for his kindergarten dress-up day, drew pictures of himself as a girl and said he wanted to sit down on the toilet.

"We had come to realise Baylin would love all girls things and would watch me for ages get ready and wear my dresses and my heels. We would just let it go and we just thought it was a phase."

But inside was a child tormented her own body.

"I came home from work and Kiera and Baylen were sitting on the bed and Kiera called me in … that is when I realised that he had tried to pull his penis off," Scott said.

"That was probably - I don't know, the most heartbreaking thing I have ever seen in my life."

But today he is Briella — wearing a dress and a big smile.

It wasn’t quite that simple but for her parents it was worth it to have a happy child.

Safe Schools teach children from a young age to accept and embrace kids with different sexualities and gender issues

"I used to look at photos of Briella pre-transition and miss that little boy but it was a sad little kid a sad, depressed little boy, so I would never want that for her," Kiera said.

"The boys didn't want to play with Briella because you know she was a bit different and the girls didn't want to play with Briella because from the outside she looked like a boy."

Briella is enrolled in what’s known as a safe school..where a controversial policy of sexual openness enabled – even encouraged — Baylin to become Briella.

Safe Schools was first set up last year in Victoria as an anti-bullying program to increase awareness and acceptance of homosexual and transgender children.

"All the kids were really excited for her to come to school and Safe Schools said "what would you do if you had seen Briella sitting by herself or feeling sad?" and the kids were like "I will go up and cuddle her and say she can play with me" like it was honestly, I had to hold back the tears, it was so sweet.

Kiera tells of the heartbreaking day they discovered Baylin had tried to pull off his penis.

But not surprisingly, not everyone is ok with the changes to the school

Cella White lives a few suburbs away from the Carmichaels and has four children including a daughter who’s blind.

"So if you are a boy and you feel like you're a girl then you can use the girls facilities and vice versa."

"It disturbed me greatly because my youngest daughter can't see very well so I would like to know that she is in these facilities with other born girls just for safety and dignity and privacy just like everybody else."

Cella eventually pulled her three children out of their school - and enrolled them in a non-safe school in a neighbouring suburb.

Cella is one parent that believes the teachings of Safe Schools is inappropriate for kids

"Safe schools has highly sexualised content and I don't believe that that's the schools place."

"I just don't understand confusing children at such a young age you know they are all trying to develop healthily."

At the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne Dr Kevin Donnelly believes Safe Schools are threatening young impressionable minds.

"If you're looking at primary school, a lot of young children are uncertain they're growing up, I'd argue their parents should be responsible for their education."

"If they're being taught this very radical safe schools program in primary school. I think it's more about indoctrination rather than education."

But Briells'a mum fiercely defends her daughter's right to choose who she is and says Safe Schools merely provided an environment that made it possible.

"[Safe Schools has] given her friends. She actually likes going to school. She’s your normal everyday sassy little girl with attitude."

"What is between her legs is her business, nobody else’s."