By Rev. Alex Pittaway

 

As a Christian my job is to love everyone who comes across my path. No exceptions. No judgements. This week we have seen Citipointe Christian College tell it’s LGBTQI students that not only are they in the same category as paedophiles and those who commit bestiality, but they will be excluded if they do not agree to this abusive, toxic and hateful contract.

 My question not just to Citipointe but to the Scott Morrison Government who promised us no LGBTQI student would be expelled, is why does your so called religious freedom have so many victims? ‘

 

Advertisement
I see my religious freedom as the freedom to love and accept all people. To Christian schools around Australia I ask you, why is your ability to teach and express your faith defined by who you can exclude instead of who you can love?

‘I Was Forced Into Closet In School’

I spent 13 years (1995 –  2007) in a private Christian school very much like Citipointe. In an environment like that homophobia went unchallenged. Worse than that homophobia tied in with it –  ‘you’re going to hell if you disagree with this homophobia’ was a terrifying reality to wake up to every day in school.

 Like many students in Christian schools, I had no choice in being sent to a school that said who I was, was an abomination against God. I was forced into a closet of fear, of expulsion, from my school, rejection from my church and possible homelessness. I couldn’t speak up when I saw teachers call Oscar Wilde the most perverted man in history who deserved to be sent to prison.

 

Advertisement
I had no recourse from teachers when other students would call me by my last name and say ‘Pitta-gay’ instead of Pittaway even though I was not out. I was forced to police myself every day to not give a hint of my sexuality. That daily policing lead to struggles with anxiety in later life.

Harassment And Bullying

I remember one student who faced relentless bullying even for the perception of being gay, after being accused of kissing another boy on the bus. I myself experienced bullying even after I graduated, with students harassing me with midnight phone calls and homophobic text messages that went on for several weeks.

 The effect of Citipointe College telling it’s students that who they are is akin to paedophilia will have a devastating impact on LGBTQI staff and students. It will make students and staff hyper vigilant that if they don’t conceal their sexuality they will be expelled.

 It will force existing LGBTQI students into deeper closets that could have the impact of not just seeing a school that is against them but their understanding of God being against them as well.

 To carry that heavy load of the whole world against you makes me fear for the lasting lifelong impacts that this enrolment contract has on students.

Citipointe’s Actions Are Deeply Triggering For Many

Right now I know former LGBTQI students and staff who were fired or discriminated against over the issue of sexuality who are being deeply triggered and distressed by Citipointe’s actions.

 I fear others are having to relive years of bullying, fear and harassment at the hands of private Christian schools, after seeing not only Citipointe’s enrolment policy but the gaslighting from the Principal who stated ‘Citipointe does not judge students on the basis of their sexuality’. How can you compare being LGBTQI to being a paedophile and that not being the most despicable kind of judgment?

Can you imagine if Citipointe instead was trying to bar enrolment on the basis of race? Why is that schools like Citipointe can not be permitted to discriminate on the basis of race but they can discriminate on the basis of orientation or gender identity?

 

Advertisement
If you think that’s an outrageous comparison, Christian schools in the United States during the 1970s fought tooth and nail against racial integration of their schools. Indeed opposing desegregation was the reason why conservative Christians first got involved in politics in that country.

We Need Laws To Protect LGBTQI Students

Rev. Alex Pittaway

I am encouraged though. When I was at school it would have been unthinkable for the public to come to the defence of the vulnerable such as an Anglican Bishop to say that in QLD no Anglican school will expel or exclude an LGBTQI student.

I went back to the Christian school where I experienced so much homophobia this year, partly to reclaim my power, partly to do what I could for the next generation. I was encouraged that the school had come a long way and had even fully accepted a trans student as they transitioned giving that student uniforms which matched their gender identity.

But as Citipointe (which will forever be a byword for exclusion in the minds of many) shows us, we need laws to protect LGBTQI students in fundamentalist schools.

I call Scott Morrison to live up to his promise that no gay student would be expelled. This document from Citipointe clearly wants to do just that.

Christian Schools Don’t Have A Monopoly On God

The message I have for students and staff who are LGBTQI at Citipointe and any other homophobic Christian schools is that these schools do not have a monopoly on God.

God is way more loving and kind and accepting of you just as you are than the narrow bigoted minds who decided to compare some of Australia’s most vulnerable young people to people who commit acts of bestiality. There are churches and communities out there ready to accept you. Please reach out for support.

 

Rev. Alex Pittaway is a Uniting Church member and MCC Minister and convenor of Safe Schools Private Schools an online FB page. 

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.

© Star Observer 2022 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.