Uniting Network, the LGBTIQ network within the Uniting Church of Australia expresses its concern around the potential to allow religious schools to exclude LGBTIQ children from schools, under the guise of religious freedom or ongoing unnecessary religious privilege (SMH report 10 October 2018).
Uniting Network rejects the need for Federal Government action on discrimination of LGBTIQ children (and any person) within any education system. We call on State Governments to wind back discrimination measures already in place at the state level impacting LGBTIQ staff and students.
Children during their schooling (from primary and high school) come to understand their sexuality, sexual orientation and gender. To permit an already vulnerable young person to be thrown out of a religious school as they become aware of their identity is not in the best interest of children and is likely to add to the already unacceptably high rates of depression, self-harm and suicide of young LGBTIQ people.
Further, we express our concern that all schools should have some relationship to representing the broader Australian society. If religious schools are permitted to exclude LGBTIQ children from their schools, around one third of Australians will continue not to have any natural connection with LGBTIQ people, potentially ingraining homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Australian society indefinitely.
We also see no rational or religious reason to discriminate against LGBTIQ staff in religious schools except in the limited case of school chaplains and teachers for the specific religious teaching. There is no justification for the exclusion of LGBTIQ teachers in core curriculum areas such as Maths, Science, English or support staff and school caretakers.
The breaking of this news comes at the same time as the Federal Government is seeking the Productivity Commission to review Mental Health programs in Australia, when the LGBTIQ people suffer a significantly higher rate of mental health issues, leading to dramatically higher self-harm and suicide rates than the general population. On the one hand, the Federal Government is seeking to improve mental health outcomes, and on the other proposes to implement policies that will continue to create mental health issues within the LGBTIQ community and in particular younger LGBTIQ people.
In our Christian context, Jesus gave two underpinning commandments, to Love God, and to Love One Another. This proposed action is providing religious, and in our context Christian schools, to disobey Jesus’ clear objective, as this form of discrimination shows that those schools will not love one another.
For further information contact:
Jason Masters on 0407780110 or firstname.lastname@example.org