Sally Goldner

Much is written about economic efficiency and how we deserve bang for our buck. Whether as consumers spending in the private sector or taxpayers funding the public sector, we want the best value for money.

Recently, I became aware of a teacher, loved by parents and students, who, although motive may have been hard to prove, was most likely harassed out of a job in a religious school due to sexual orientation. The teacher, while not one to be easily pushed around, eventually was left with the reality of negotiating a settlement and leaving.

What costs and inefficiencies have been created by this situation? The distress caused to teacher, students and parents; the time taken to negotiate the teacher’s exit and resulting lost productivity; the costs of advertising, interviewing and hiring for a replacement; the possible future costs of the unemployed teacher needing Centrelink benefits; stress for the teacher and family; a productive employee is out of work; cost to government and society of homophobia — the cash register keeps ringing up.

Yet because of the religious exemptions to equal opportunity laws, this and other similar waste keeps occurring. We have spent all this money and ended up with a new teacher who, all other things being equal, is likely to be as good as the previous one.

How does this waste come about? Because lobbies that claim to talk for all religion when barely able to speak for a small number of Christians use their excessive influence to get their form of industry protection, namely religious exemptions — and at everyone else’s expense.

I could talk about how back when there was less equal opportunity protection, there was more workplace violence against trans folk, and how unrepresentative anti law-and-order elements are wanting to turn us back to those times — but that will have to wait until a future column.

info: Sally Goldner is VGLRL Treasurer and TransGender Victoria spokesperson.

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