The review of the program, which supports LGBT students and teachers, will decide if it contains “age-appropriate material.”

The Safe Schools program, aimed at promoting acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students, is under review after facing weeks of scrutiny from the conservative side of the Liberal Party.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ordered the program to face an independent review on Tuesday. The review will advise Education Minister Simon Birmingham if the program contains “age-appropriate” material.

Birmingham, a strong supporter of the Safe Schools program, has said, “Homophobia should be no more tolerated than racism, especially in the school environment. However, it is essential that all material is age appropriate and that parents have confidence in any resources used in a school to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school.”

During the closed-door meeting of federal Coalition MPs and senators on Tuesday, the program governed discussion.

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi strongly objected to the program and called for the $8 million program to be defunded. He based his concern on the belief that Safe Schools are used to “indoctrinate children into a Marxist agenda of cultural relativism.” He also said that the program is sexualising children prematurely.

Around 500 schools in Australia are currently signed up for the Safe Schools program. The Safe Schools website offers access to free support to help respond to “homophobic and transphobic behaviour and to create inclusive policies and practices actively.”

The national program director for the Safe Schools Coalition, Sally Richardson, has previously stated that the program does not contain content on sexual techniques. She noted that the content Safe Schools is being wrongly accused of including can be accessed from links on the website.

Susan Close, the South Australian education minister, said, “I am bitterly disappointed that the Prime Minister has raised questions about the merits of the Safe Schools Coalition. This program is devoted to countering the bullying of children whose emerging sexuality and gender identification can make them vulnerable, isolated and at times at risk of self-harm. Children in this situation deserve our support and protection, not more bullying by politicians.”

The Australian Education Union has spoken out against Turnbull’s decision saying the review is a “disappointing capitulation to extreme conservatives within the Coalition.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has also spoken out against the decision.  On his Facebook page, he posted, “I’m sick of Liberal Politicians telling our kids that there’s something wrong with them – when there isn’t.”

Andrews added, “Cory Bernardi says teenagers are too young to know about love, care, and acceptance. I can assure you, Senator, they know much more about it than you.”

The Safe Schools Coalition released a statement saying that the opportunity to demonstrate the “positive impact of this important program” was welcomed. The statement said, “Ensuring the well-being of all students and their equal access to education is what this program is all about.”

The review is projected to be complete by mid-March.