Parents frustrated that Quinns Baptist College refuses student’s new name

A Perth couple have shared their frustration that their child’s school is refusing their request to accept their child’s new name.

Andrew and Louise’s child Lynx is in the fifth grade at Quinns Baptist College in Perth northern suburbs. They’re supportive parents who are embracing their child’s non-binary gender and choice of a new name.

The religious-based school however is insisting on continuing to use Lynx’s former name, citing a school policy introduced late last year that rules out recognising non-binary or transgender students. The policy says it is based on the teachings of the Bible.

Speaking to online radio station Youth Jam on Thursday, Andrew told host Isaac Mulcrone that he couldn’t be prouder of Lynx, but the school’s stance was disappointing.

“This is creating a lot of stress within our family because essentially we just want our child to go to school and learn and be nurtured and treated respectfully, and it’s just not following through.” Andrew said.

“I can respect the belief system and that side of things, but if you look at it from a religious perspective there are periods throughout the Bible where people change their name.”

Andrew said the outcome of the school’s new policy is that a child who used to love going to school is now finding it a negative experience.

“They used to love going to school and that’s just disappearing, it’s really hard to get them to school if they just don’t want to be there because they are not treated right.”

The school’s ‘Gender Policy’, which has been seen by OUTinPerth, states that the school believes that the Bible teaches that God creates people as male or female, and gender is determined by the dominant physical characteristics present at birth.

The policy goes on to say that people’s ‘sexual identity’ or ‘gender identity’ can only be those assigned at birth. The policy says all students names and pronouns must correspond with their ‘sexual identity’ as described by the school.

Quinns Baptist College says students can only access facilities, single-sex curricular and extra-curricular activities under the ‘sexual identity’ they were given at birth, and must dress in a manner that reflects their birth sex.

Speaking to OUTinPerth, Louise shared that it was frustrating that the school had introduced the new policy just last year, long after they’d chosen them as an education provider.

“The school quoted their faith as the reason. Which I find somewhat questionable, as they previously had an option for preferred name on their enrolment form, and this “gender policy” was only dated 8/12/2021 – and did not exist when we enrolled the children originally.” Louise said.

The school has told the parents that they will accept shortened versions of the names on birth certificates, but refuse to address Lynx by their name.

“We are disappointed that a school who presented an inclusive front at the time of enrolment has shown their true colours to be very far from this. At this point, getting Lynx to go to school is getting harder, as they are tired of spending 6 hours per day being dead-named and misgendered.

“There are days where they have ended up coming with me to work to avoid facing it.” Louise said.

Louise shared that one of the reasons Lynx has an good understanding of the spectrum of gender within society is because they have older siblings who are transgender. They also used to attend Quinns Baptist College but Louise and Andrew decided to withdraw them from the school.

“We already removed the older two, due to the transphobia they experienced negatively impacting their mental health quite severely. We will now be investigating other options for Lynx. As a parent, my goal was for them to have a quality education – but not to the detriment of their mental well-being.”

The couple hope the school will reconsider their policy and return to approach they had previously.

“I would like the school to truly embody the faith they claim to have – to include and care for all children – whether they be LGBTQIA or cis – they all deserve the same love and respect.” Louise said.

“Given that the school previously didn’t have an issue with preferred names, as recently as last year when my older two did still attend – they used preferred names, I would like to see this policy revoked.”

Brian Greig from LGBTIQA+ rights group Just.Equal commented on the situation at Quinns Baptist College saying it was frustrating the the McGowan government was continuing to allow this type of discrimination to occur.

“This form of discrimination is entirely legal in Western Australia, because our state has the worst anti-LGBTI laws in the country, by which I mean the sweeping and broad exemptions to the Equal Opportunity Act, particularly for religious schools on the grounds of religious exemptions,” Greig said.

“This form of discrimination could not happen in some other jurisdictions. It highlights the need for the McGowan Government to reform this area of law. They’ve been in government now for more than six years, and we haven’t even seen draft legislation on a range of LGBTI issues which are long overdue.

“Western Australia has fallen far behind other states in this regard, and it’s a broken promise from Mark McGowan.” Greig said.

Back in 2015, when he was Opposition Leader, McGowan spoke out against a school in his electorate that threatened to expel a primary school aged girl who had a parent in a same-sex relationship.

Brian Greig says it’s disappointing that once he came to power the Premier didn’t take any action.

“He’s made that comment, that commitment, as Opposition Leader, but has done nothing about it as Premier.” Greig said.

Since being elected the McGowan Government has offered a range of reasons why it has not been able to take action.

“Labor has used to ongoing excuses over the last decade really not to do anything in this area,” Greig continued.

“The first is they would complain about not having the numbers in the Upper House. They’d say, there’s no point in pushing through this legislation which would get blocked by conservatives in the Upper House. They can no longer use that excuse because the government has comfortable numbers in both the lower and the upper house. So it’s now there’s no clear passage for any legislation they want to advance.

“The other excuse that Labor has been using over the last four or five years is that they have been hampered by the Morison Government, that they had to wait and see what the final outcome of Scott Morrison’s Religious Discrimination Bill would be before they could do anything at a state level. Morrison and the Morrison Religious Discrimination Bill are now gone. They’re off the table. So that excuse can no longer be put forward.

Just.Equal have called on the government to take action on a range of LGBTIQA+ related legislation.

“The McGowan Government has run out of excuses. It’s high time that we had law reform on a range of fronts not just on religious exemptions, but also on banning conversion practices, fixing up the situation for trans people including identity documents, banning non-consenting surgeries on people who are intersex, bringing in incitement to hatred and anti-vilification laws, and return the funding to Safe Schools.

“We’re now in a situation where WA is behind most other states on LGBTI law reform, and has been outpaced by the Liberal government in Tasmania on a range of fronts in this area, and it’s not acceptable.” Brian Greig said.

Graeme Watson

OUTinPerth reached out to Quinns Baptist College for comment but all our requests for comment were turned down.

Update 28/06/22: This article was amended to add additional quotes from Brian Greig.

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