Faced with increasing public backlash against its homophobic and transphobic enrolment contract, Citipointe Christian College on Thursday announced that it was withdrawing the document that was issued on January 28. 

The updated enrolment contract allowed the school to expel students for coming out as gay or transgender. The contract also had offending language that compared homosexuality to bestiality and paedophilia and spelled out the school’s stand about only acknowledging a student’s “biological sex”.

“Families will no longer be asked to agree to that contract for their child to be enrolled in the College,” the school said in a statement. 

“We deeply regret that some students feel that they would be discriminated against because of their sexuality or gender identity, and I apologise to them and their families on behalf of the College,” Principal, Pastor Brian Mulheran said in the statement.  

“As stated previously, the College does not and will not discriminate against any student because of their sexuality or gender identity. It is central to our faith that being gay or transgender in no way diminishes a person’s humanity or dignity in God’s eyes.”

‘Religious Freedom Issue’

Mulheran, however, also chose to frame the issue as one of religious freedom. 

“It is also deeply distressing that some of our students have been vilified in the community simply for their religious beliefs or because they attend the College,” said Mulheran.  “I hope that by withdrawing the contract we can return all of our focus to the Christian education of our students as we begin this new year.

“Our society gives freedom to people to be a part of groups with shared beliefs. Citipointe has the freedom to maintain its Christian ethos and this is an essential part of Christian education and choice for parents. As a College established for religious purposes, we will continue to provide an education based on our shared beliefs,” said Mulheran. 

In a separate email to parents, Mulheran apologised for any “angst” caused to families because of the contract. Mulheran told the parents that the school had gone ahead with the “discriminatory” enrolment contract under the belief that it was lawful.

“Discrimination law is complex, particularly where there is interrelationship between Federal and state legislation. The college believed that the amendments made to the enrolment contract were lawful and did not constitute discrimination,” the mail to parents said.

“The college does not and will not discriminate in its operations. On further reflection, we have considered that the process we followed in drafting and disseminating the amended enrollment contract could have been done in a better way with the college community. The college also considers on reflection that the amended terms and the way in which the declaration of faith has been presented has caused some concern within members of the college community, including our students.”

Mulheran assured the parents that the school would comply with its obligations with regard to anti-discrimination laws and added that the “college does not and will not unlawfully discriminate against a student in respect of their sexuality or gender identity.”

Public Backlash Credited For School’s Backflip

Greens Senator Janet Rice credited the public outcry for forcing the school to withdraw the offensive contract and pointed to the dangers of the Religious Discrimination Bill that Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants the Parliament to pass.

“Who knows what would have happened if not for the significant media attention & public outcry. This is why Morrison’s Religious Discrimination Bill is so dangerous,” tweeted Senator Rice.

School’s Contract ‘Distressing’

The updated enrolment contract had come under fire from activists, the state human rights commissioner and some parents. A few parents also announced that they were withdrawing their children from the school.

Queensland’s Education Minister Grace Grace, who has a non-binary child, had termed the contract as “distressing”.

The minister said that she had received many complaints from parents and had referred the matter to the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board. She said that the Human Rights Commissioner had warned the school it “cannot contract out of your legally binding anti-discrimination laws in this state”.

“In this day and age, to see this happening, is actually quite unbelievable,” said the minister, adding, “We strive for an inclusive and supportive school environment — that is what we should be doing — and no student should be denied a world-class education because they are a member of the LGBTQI community.”

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

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