The Anglican Church has defended its dismissal of lesbian Sydney school teacher Steph Lentz. It said Lentz wasn’t fired because of her sexual orientation, but because she believed that  Christians should be allowed to have same-sex relationships. 

The Sydney Anglican Diocese justified sacking Ms Lentz by citing her comments in two opinion pieces she contributed to The Age and Sydney Morning Herald

‘Not Sacked For Being Gay’

The Right Reverend Michael Stead, chair of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney’s religious freedom reference group wrote a submission to a parliamentary inquiry on the Commonwealth government’s Religious Discrimination Bill.

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Rev Stead said Ms Lentz wasn’t “sacked for being gay” and described such an interpretation as a “sensationalist headline.” 

“A heterosexual teacher who held the same theological views on sexuality and relationships, and therefore was unable to sign the statement of belief, would also have had his or her employment terminated,” Stead wrote. 

“Conversely, there are those in the LGBTIQ+ community who self-identify as ‘celibate gay Christians’ who would be able to sign the school’s statement of belief.”

Rev Stead said he remarked on Lentz’s case because of the media attention she had received. 

He told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, “the issue was not about her same-sex attraction but her inability to sign the school’s statement of belief, and to teach that from a place of personal conviction.” 

Sacked After Coming Out As Lesbian

Lentz was “lawfully sacked” from her teaching job at Covenant Christian College in January this year after she came out as lesbian to her colleagues in 2020.

Lentz married a man when she was 23-years-old and considered having children. Leading up to her coming out in 2020, she struggled with her sexuality. 

Lentz told Star Observer in August this year that she was part of a conservative church for many years and had been struggling with her sexuality.

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Covenant Christian College stated in a December 3, 2020 letter addressed to Lentz: “Do you have a firm personal belief that all the beliefs contained in Section 6 ‘Response to the Gospel’ in ‘The Foundation Statement’ are true including that ‘Believers will also seek to use their bodies to honour God and will flee all sexual immorality, including sexual relations outside of marriage and homosexual practices?” 

‘A Kick In The Guts’

Last month, Lentz wrote in an opinion piece for The Age: “Exemptions in state and federal anti-discrimination laws make my dismissal legal. Currently, Christian schools can fire employees if their beliefs do not line up perfectly with those of the school.”

“I tried to argue my case with my employer, to convince them that I could be a Christian and live true to biological realities that I cannot change. It was painful, often lonely, and ultimately unsuccessful.” 

She also wrote the school said she was a “good English teacher,” but it “wasn’t enough because [she] didn’t fulfil the inherent requirements of [her] occupation.” 

Lentz had described her termination from the school as a “kick in the guts.” Lentz told Star Observer that she had “cherished the relationships that I had built up with students. I had great colleagues, there were a lot of positives about the time, however that is framed by certain views that are incredibly damaging to me but also to queer staff and students at the school.”

 

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