Penrith Christian School has listed transgender identity and same-sex attraction alongside “abusive relationships” as behaviours “not acceptable to God” in a statement attached to its enrolment application.
Trigger Warning: This story has details of homophobic and transphobic statements, which might be distressing to some readers. 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.
The Sydney private school’s principal, Tracey Deal, has defended the homophobic and transphobic Statement of Faith, which states that “Adultery, same-sex attraction, transgender identity, premarital sex, sexual acts between members of the same sex and abusive relationships, are all examples of relationships and behaviours which are not acceptable to God.
School Defends Statement
According to the Guardian, in a letter to parents, Deal called the controversy a misunderstanding and said the media has “misinterpreted a small part of the Statement of Faith and inferred mistreatment of students.”
Other parts of the Statement of Faith discuss “divine healing for the body” and “everlasting punishment of the wicked (in the sense of eternal torment).”
Back in 2013, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Penrith Christian School was forced to review its Statement of Faith after it came to light that it called homosexuality an “abomination unto God, a perversion of the natural order and not to be entered into.”
The school had responded then that the “policy was now under review, according to Christian Schools Australia, which says the wording has been ‘misunderstood’ and that gay and lesbian students are treated with care”.
Good to see Penrith Christian School now re-thinking their approach to gay students, hope they support my bill http://t.co/S76Sddx5iW
— Alex Greenwich MP (@AlexGreenwich) August 29, 2013
Faith-Based School’s Power To Discriminate
Earlier this week, Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane was criticised for its enrollment contract which stated “any form of sexual immorality (including but not limiting to adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, bisexual acts, bestiality, incest, paedophilia and pornography) is sinful and offensive to God and is destructive to human relationships and society.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded to the controversy by saying that faith-based schools will not be allowed to discriminate against LGBTQI students.
Soon after, he announced a proposal that would amend the Sex Discrimination Act to prevent schools from discriminating based on sexuality. However, schools would retain the right to expel and discriminate against students on the basis of gender identity.
Moderate Liberal MPs have threatened to oppose the Religious Discrimination Bill while the Labor Party has yet to release a position.
Read Star Observer’s submission on the Religious Discrimination Bill.
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.