“History will not judge kindly” on schools that discriminate against LGBTI children: the principal

When asked what her response would be to a family asking her to consider enrolling their child who had passed from a boy to a girl, she replied, “I will say yes”. Likewise, female students who switch to male are welcome to stay in school.

SCEGGS Darlinghurst Principal Jenny Allum said her school would never seek to use legal exemptions to discriminate against LBGTQI staff or students.Credit:Louis Douvis

“There is no policy that says you would not be welcome here again, she said.

Far from reflecting the position of the wider faith community, the views of principals are based on a range of opinions on the usefulness of exemptions, which includes staunch opposition to their removal from powerful groups. faith-based organizations, including Christian Schools Australia and the Australian Christian Lobby.

A number of moderate Liberal MPs, including Dave Sharma and Katie Allen, are pushing for the repeal of Section 38 (3) to be speeded up, seeing this as a crucial step before further scrutiny can be given to the government. bill on religious discrimination. Attorney General Michaelia Cash appeared this week to backtrack on a deal with the moderates that would see this issue resolved before any vote on the bill, and instead re-engaged in a review process by the Australian Law Reform Commission which would see further protections for LGBTQI students delayed for up to 12 months after the bill is passed.

Professor Patrick Parkinson, dean of the University of Queensland Law School and head of the Freedom for Faith think tank, said the legislation could be fixed, but the simple repeal of the s38 (3) exemption This was not the right solution to a complex problem, and one that would expose denominational schools “to the problems that the gender identity provisions have caused”.

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“The sections of the law dealing with discrimination on the basis of gender identity are vague and poorly drafted,” said Professor Parkinson.

“No one has given any thought to the legal obligations imposed on schools if a troubled teenager decides they are ‘trans’ or ‘non-binary’. Should the school accept the adolescent’s self-identification? What about from the parents’ point of view? What does it even mean for a school’s uniform policy, for example, if a teenage girl insists she is “non-binary”? “

Christian Schools Australia policy director Mark Spencer said schools wanted to be able to have pastoral conversations with students about their sexuality and gender identity “without the threat of prosecution.”

“It is the pastoral that reflects our clearly stated values ​​and it is the pastoral that could tell the young people that we obviously do not agree with this behavior and we do not think that it is the best thing for you”, Mr Spencer said. .

In some cases, this behavior “could lead to disciplinary consequences if it actively undermines the ethics of the school,” he said.

The president of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Adel Salman, said the repeal of exemptions for students had not been specifically discussed in the Islamic school sector, saying it was a “non-problem” .

“I am not aware of any situation in Australia where an Islamic school has ever discriminated against a trans student or a gay student. It never happened, ”Mr. Salman said.

He said that all the students were taught the core values ​​of Islam, including that homosexuality is prohibited, and that they would not be allowed to campaign against these values ​​inside the school.

“We cannot have Islamic schools that allow students to openly call for homosexuality … or if students start espousing the legitimacy of same-sex marriage when it is completely against religion,” he said. -he declares. “If the students themselves are gay, and as long as they don’t openly promote it or practice it within the school, then the school will likely understand. It’s a very fine balancing act.


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