Greens want religious discrimination inquiry

Greens want religious discrimination inquiry

The NSW Greens have called for a full inquiry into NSW laws that allow religious schools to discriminate against students and teachers on the basis of sexual orientation.

Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann said the case of a Melbourne school girl being banned form taking her girlfriend to the school formal highlighted the need to abolish clauses which exempt some education providers from anti-discrimination laws.

Fairfax reports today that 16-year-old Hannah Williams was forbidden by Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar to take her (then) 15-year-old girlfriend to the formal because she was asked by the school to bring a male.

The school argued the formal was about creating a co-educational environment for the female students.

Williams’ father lodged a complaint with the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission, alleging discrimination against his daughter because of her sexual orientation. The complaint went to mediation, however no resolution was found.

Williams has since changed schools to Swinburne Senior Secondary College, where she now attends with her girlfriend.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Here in NSW, the law allows some religious schools to openly discriminate against students and teachers on the basis of their sexual orientation. This is not acceptable,” Faehrmann said.

“The huge problem of homophobic bullying is exacerbated when some schools and teachers themselves are engaging in discriminatory behaviour.

“With same-sex attracted teenagers suffering abuse, depression and other mental health issues at many times the rate of other teenagers, the need for action on homophobia is urgent.

“What is clear is that this issue is more widespread and more damaging to young people than is given credit for here at Macquarie Street.

“A full inquiry is needed to give this issue the attention it deserves. The Greens believe there is more that the NSW Government can do and want a full and open investigation.

“I will move for a parliamentary inquiry after the next state election and hope to build multi-party support for both the inquiry, and any recommendations arising.”

Queer Melbourne youth group Minus18 co-convenor Micah Scott told Sydney Star Observer this morning the incident was worrying.

“This is a confident young girl who has the support of her parents and has the support [to go to] the Equal Opportunity Commission and if someone has all that support, and can’t actually convince the school not to discriminate, then what hope does someone who isn’t as confident as her,” Scott said.

“So while this is such a shocking story, I just can’t help but think about all those other kids who don’t have the confidence and how this example will affect them.”

Scott said the issue is a common one for same-sex attracted young people.

He said most commonly a student would quietly come out to a teacher and the teacher would try to encourage the student to keep their sexuality under wraps.

“A lot of teachers are aware that officially they can’t discriminate that blatantly, but we hear it all the time for a young person to be discouraged quite actively by the school,” he said.

Scott said the incident highlights the need for more schools to join the Government-backed state anti-homophobia initiative, the Safe Schools Coalition.

“I’ve heard a couple of people say, why do we need an organisation that focuses on creating safe spaces in schools when schools are already safe?

“I think this really highlights that young people are still discriminated against and how much that support is really needed.”

Minus18 will be in contact with Williams and her girlfriend to invite them to the next Minus18 dance event in Melbourne in December as honorary guests.

You May Also Like

28 responses to “Greens want religious discrimination inquiry”

  1. Dear Sue, If they got it wrong they got a lot wrong;

    “Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann said the case of a Melbourne school girl being banned form taking her girlfriend to the school formal”

    “Fairfax reports today that 16-year-old Hannah Williams was forbidden by Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar to take her (then) 15-year-old girlfriend to the formal because she was asked by the school to bring a male”

    “Williams’ father lodged a complaint with the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission, alleging discrimination against his daughter because of her sexual orientation. The complaint went to mediation, however no resolution was found”

    “Williams has since changed schools to Swinburne Senior Secondary College, where she now attends with her girlfriend”

  2. As a parent at the school in question I can vouch that there have been many misrepresentations of the facts in the media. The girl in question was not allowed to the Year 11 Dinner Dance (in June) as she was in Year 10 and this was the ONLY reason she was not allowed. At the Year 12 Formal girls can bring partners of any age. The two girls have been open about their relationship with all their year level and teachers since it started. The school embraces diversity and maintains inclusiveness of all its students and the Principal has been nothing but wholly supportive. We have teachers and students in same-sex relationships and many have written to the Principal in support and been interviewed on radio including JoyFM. The two girls are currently finishing off the year at the school. Get your story straight.

  3. There urgently needs to be an Equality Act for 2010 NOW!!!! With NO exceptions for any individual, business, religious organisation or corporation – not a law that dates way back to 1977 that is still on the books mind you!!!!!!

  4. You’ve got that back to front Dave. I’m not trying to convince you of anything – we don’t have same-sex marriages – if you want to reverse that then it’s you who has to do the convincing.

  5. this policy in the article is straight out of the communist manifest

    don’t take my word for it look it up-


    p.s. holding tassie as a beacon is very naive.

  6. “Baz” and “Greens are this and that” (Bible Bashing Lunatic).

    You guys have not convinced me. In fact far from it. Associating gay people with Serial Killers? Mass murderers? What a dark and twisted mind. Who is Baz? Christian Brethren? I wonder. The Communist are coming the Communist are coming? Both of you are against Same-Sex Marriage from you posting all over the place. I could tell you both a white wall is what and you would say it is black. No convincing some even when confronted with reality.

    No you have not convinced us. Maybe you convinced “The Truth” above and other haters. You are both so against Same-Sex Marriage. Not sure why. Is Same-Sex Marriage a right? Yes.

    I think I will watch the Grass Grow!

  7. this is communism straight out of the communist manifesto

    at policy lifted straight out of communism- do the research!




    DO NOT BE FOOLED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. So Dave, where are the “majority of academics” supporting John Boswell? A Wikipedia biog won’t cut it. In fact if you scroll down to the ‘Legacy’ paragraph it states quite plainly that he became out of step in mainstream scholarly opinion and how it’s such an anachronism to even speak of ‘gay people’ in ancient societies.

    The rest of your post is just plain silly. Some gifted and influential people are gay…. But then so was serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer.

  9. John Bowell was a noted Professor at Yale University. Boswell produced well referenced studies that have been supported by a vast majority of academics on the history of homosexuality and religion. Given his subject matter, the history of unions and Same-Sex marriage, there have been people out to dispute him and make fun of him. For example on one link Baz gave a person talks about a modern ceremony they had in 1985. When in fact Boswell spoke and referenced an ancient ceremony, not the 1985 version. It is a bit like saying a ceremony that used to be used for marriage 2000 years ago, but is not now, means that it never was used for marriage at all. The other link Baz gave talks about “homosexuals” rewriting history. Yes Boswell has loads of critics who have not published in good journals an alternative version that stands up to scrutiny. What they offer is there own opinion. Just clouded personal opinion. There is a world of difference between the opinion of someone and an academic study in a good journal. Given the majority of academics support Boswell, I will to against the opinion of a few.

    Having Chinese relatives I have been to China and learnt from some elderly people of their memory of Same-Sex “Marriage”. I say “Marriage” as there was not a uniform ceremony. Marriage, like here, has always been changing and evolving. Even Singapore has ceremonies just a 100 years ago.

    What next we will be saying Alan Turing did not break the Enigma code that stopped us speaking Japanese? Would people say he did not change the course of the war as the British Parliament recently said while giving him a pardon? Yes some people are out to get any same-sex attacked person no matter what great things they have done. Whether they are Professors who are well published, or Olympic swimmers. People are out to deny our history, in the same way some are out to deny Aboriginal history, and even the Holocaust that killed so many.

  10. 100% back the Greens on this one.

    For those of you who are interested, please refer to a book called “The Purple Economy”, by Max Wallace. Here is the link:

    The book details the outrageous extent to which all taxpayers fund organised religion in this country.

  11. @Craigan
    I didn’t say anything about Christianity, I just responded to something Dave said. But I do hope when you talk about same-sex unions occuring thousands of years ago you’re not referring to the work of John Boswell? He has been thoroughly discredited. Try the two links below. The first is by a woman who actually went through a uniting ceremony with another woman in Jerusalem (no less!) It was a surprise to her to learn that – according to Boswell – she is “married”.

  12. @Baz
    Marriage, including same-sex unions, pre-date christianity by thousands if not tens of thousands of years. Much like every other “christian” ritual.
    The idea that christianity or any other religion holds dominion over the institute of marriage is wilfull ignorance. That would be like a Mathematics teacher claiming to own, have invented, and hold all intellectual property rights to Mathematics, and that nobody else may use it.

  13. “A bible Marriage happened at 12 where girls were treated as cattle but we no longer support a traditional Bible Marriage. Society has moved on.”

    But we haven’t moved on enough if people insist marriage has to extend to same-sex couples as a tokenistic sign of equality. Think outside the whole square, not just a couple of corners of it.

  14. John some Christian schools offer child abuse by creating an environment of deep hate. They abuse children at risk. There are some good Christian Schools that do not seek to persecute Same-Sex attracted youth. At that age, no matter what the sexuality, teenagers need support, not isolation and vilification.

    As seen in the forums and talk back on mainstream media, people are appalled at the vilification of two young girls. So what if they were 15. A bible Marriage happened at 12 where girls were treated as cattle but we nolonger support a traditional Bible Marriage. Society has moved on.

    To deny a young girl the dance with her love, simply due to her sexuality is abhorrent and fouls the air we all breathe. To support a school that seeks to abuse children with our taxes is morally repugnant. A school that is a bully rightfully earns the disgust of all the community, including other schools.

    The more Christian schools attack people simply due to their sexuality and bully a child, then the more the wider community will call into question the Governments support of such schools.

    Just as now society finds it not acceptable to have a 12 year old girl have a Bible Marriage, or women treated as cattle, so to have we all moved on and developed a more sophisticated understanding of sexuality, at least good Christian Schools that do not abuse children at risk have anyway.

    There is no right for any school to abuse or bully a child simply due to their sexuality. Indeed many Christian Schools have come out attacking this particular Christian School.

    I do know some, such as the Australian Christian Lobby, are seeking to make much out this. They are doing the old style preaching, “We are all under attack and we mus unite the flock to defend ourselves! Join us and pay membership!”. The real risk to Christian schools is allowing Christian Schools to abuse children and defending them. Make no mistake this school has now got the wider community to call into question the funding of such schools. The Australian Christian Lobby trying to fan the flames of this debate, for their own purpose, has put other schools at risk.

    The wider community does not support the vilification of students simply due to their sexuality. It is now the wider community that is asking serious questions. This is an attack on Australian Children and know person wants children to be bullied or vilified under the disguise of a Christian Education.

  15. Hey,
    Lets play the ‘attack the christians’ game!

    “’cause, it’s like ya know, soo unfair that a christian school, can like, ya know have their own standards they want to uphold.”

    I think people need to leave the christian school alone. They have a social view and they should be able to have that view. You may not like it, but their not calling up every media outlet when you tell them your alternative opinion.

    Why has society moved to a point where if your not part of the status quo – every body else is allowed to attack you? Regardless of (once again) if you think their view is outdated or not.

    Also am I the only one to notice that the 2 girls are just children? Why whould you even want a relationship at 15?

  16. “The truth” – I am perfectly comfortable and at ease with being a sinner. I could never live with being a fuckwit though. Tell us all what it’s like. But I imagine you are probably completely oblivious of your disposition and have no insight into your own stupidity.

  17. The Truth, if you ever ate pork, prawns, spoke back to or ignored your parents or have cotton blend socks then your just as bad a sinner too according to Leviticus (did you even read the bible?) and i suggest you need to remember your just as dirty and sinful as any gay person and cannot throw any stones at all without condemning yourself. John 8:7

    Your also guilty of not heeding ‘Vex not a stranger nor oppress him for you were strangers in the land of Egypt’ Exodus 22:21 which tells you not to impose your rules over others different from you (and that is repeated in Exodus 23:9) so even if you tried to pick a fight cause you wanted a fight, a misunderstanding of ‘do unto others’, you just haven’t studied your own faiths holy texts enough to dance this dance.

    No Christians rights nor Christians themselves are harmed by preventing them from discriminating against others so there is no ‘christophobia’ in equality for all, and didn’t Jesus hang around with the kinds of people considered amongst the worst of the worst in his day? Aren’t you suppossed to turn the other cheek? Mathew 5:38-40

    Besides whether it’s Mathew 19:12 or Isaiah 56:4-5 unless your showing proper respect to Intersex people at the least and probably Transgender ones too then your just not heeding your Gods word.

    In fact i wonder if any of those who try and insist on the power to discriminate have ever actually read their Bibles? Because it seems they have lost their way entirely and need to return to the teachings actually there in the book to be found.

  18. Christian ethics are a fiction and used subjectively by Christians to achieve whatever purpose suits them at the time.

    Some people call it dialectic materialism – “say and do whatever you have to, to get whatever you want”.

    The Greens propose a course of action that will take decades to achieve insignificant results.

    A better policy would be to hit the Christian Schools in their budgets by reducing government grants to religious schools that discriminate against gays.

    Christian ethics would evaporate very quickly if exposed to a threat of a reduction of government funding if their school policies did not conform to government standards.

    Those government standards are already in place and are practiced and enforced by government departments.

    It would not be a case of double standards.

  19. As an old poof with a catholic education behind me It was the poofter brothers and the lesbian nuns that bashed the hardest.

  20. Can’t wait till all schools finally have to abide by the Anti-Discrimination Act. This is the 21st century. Its disgusting the way religious schools discriminate and vilify against gays. I had to put up with it for four years. Enough is enough.

  21. @the truth
    Troll harder. I would rate this a 2 out of 10, sir. You come across as too much of a caricature of ridiculous fundamentalist bigots for me to believe you actually are one.

  22. Any school which enrols a student at the beginning of their education should be forced to nurture that child without discrimination until the child finishes high school.
    A child should not have to change schools after they “come out” in order to escape homophobia.
    The school needs to change.


  24. The Greens are the only Party not seeking to oppress us. They are the only Party that has no issue with our sexuality. They are the only Party that wants us to be free.

    Despite all the reforms the Liberal and Labor Party say they have done, a girl cannot go to a school dance with her love.

    I want a tax refund from the Labor Party using my taxes to encourage hate of people like me, like us. How dare they, how dare the bastards treat us like that.

    We cannot let Gillard get away with this. She was the Education Minister responsible for private school funding. She did nothing when I wrote to her about Xavier High School in Albury, sending out a newsletter calling on all homosexuals to be removed from the face of the Earth, and our Prime Minister still encourages haters and gives them money, your money.