Did Australia see ‘religious freedom’ in action?
Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College came under fire when they demanded parents of would – be students sign a contract that called homosexual and bisexual ‘acts’ a sin. They also refused to acknowledge the gender identity of a student who was trans or non – binary.
The contract listed homosexuality and bisexuality as ‘sins’, along with bestiality, fornication and incest. Unlike what other reports I’ve seen, no, the contract didn’t liken bestiality, etc with homosexuality and bisexuality.
The backlashThe condemnation was swift and fierce. A petition calling to recall the contract gained over 150,000 signatures. This is in contrast with an Australian Christian Lobby petition defending the school, which got around 30,000 signatures.
Pastor and Principal, Brian Mulheran dug his heels in, but denied that LGBTQ+ students get expelled for their orientation or gender identity:
While I have been principal at the college, we have not expelled or refused to enrol any student on the basis that they are gay or transgender.
Former students spoke out against the school. One student even alleged a disturbing incident when students saw a video of authorities beheading LGBTQ+ people to act as a deterrent.
Last Friday, advocates organised a protest at King George Square in Brisbane.
Parents refused to sign contract
Parents told the ABC in an article that they refused to sign the contract. They condemned the college of discriminating against students on the basis of religion, as well as gender and sexuality.
They argued that the contract violated Christian values. That depends on how you define ‘Christian values”. Do you define “Christian values” based on the Golden Rule? Or a modern loose interpretation on a handful of passages in the Bible? Pastor Mulheran apparently defines it by the latter.
The problem with ‘just go to another school’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned discrimination against LGBTQ+ students. He even vowed that the pending Religious Discrimination Bill will actually protect LGBTQ+ students.
He has also promised that he’ll try and reverse anti – discrimination exemptions that are in place in a number of Australian States and Territories.
These ‘promises’ have faced opposition among the Liberal/ National Party members.
One common argument against protections is that parents should ‘just look for another school’.
There are a few problems with this. Citipointe Christian College is K – 12. Children may not realise their LGBTQ+ by the time they are four or five.
Some don’t know exactly what their sexuality or gender identity is until years later. So, if a student, who has been at Citipointe Christian College from Kindergarten, realise they may be gay at sixteen, what, should they just leave? It doesn’t make sense. Put the onus on schools, not parents or students.
Schools need to be inclusive
I’ve written before about my struggle with my sexuality when I was at school. It was hard to admit I was struggling with my sexuality in school. And I was offered nothing but support.
I’d hate to think how it would’ve been if the school wasn’t supportive. This is why I strongly believe that all schools should be welcoming and accepting of all students. They need to be a safe place for students, especially if they are not supported by parents or caregivers. Discrimination against students can’t be tolerated.
Pastor Mulheran released an ‘apology’ of sorts. There have been calls for him to resign. He is currently taking leave. It’s not known when/ if he’ll return.
In Parliament, the Religious Discrimination Act and discrimination act exemptions are being debated.
My take? Scrap the exemptions and forget the Religious Discrimination Act. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people was always the aim of the Religious Discrimination Act.
What do you think of Citipointe Christian College or the Religious Discrimination Act debate? Feel free to put your thoughts (respectfully) in the comments below.