South Coast Baptist College responds to removal of gay teacher

South Coast Baptist College has defended its decision to discontinue the employment of a relief teacher because he revealed he was in a same sex relationship.

On Monday OUTinPerth revealed that local gay man Craig Campbell had lost his position as a relief teacher at the school after he let his superiors know that he was in a same sex relationship.

Campbell had to deal with suspicion about his sexuality from colleagues after they questioned a photo on his social media profile. When students saw him with his partner at a relatives wedding he realised he could no longer keep a big part of his life a secret.

South Coast Baptist College turned down the opportunity to speak to OUTinPerth, beyond confirming that Campbell was no longer a teacher at the school. Now the school’s Principal has told The West Australian that at the time the decision was based on the school’s foundational beliefs.

South Coast Baptist College principal Des Mitchell told The West Australian that Craig Campbell had been loved and respected by both staff and students and, like the rest of the community, the school was on a “respectful journey of understanding” on this issue.

The principal defended the school’s decision to no longer employ the teacher once he revealed he was in a same sex relationship because they believed that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

“Young people are naturally inquisitive,” Mitchell said. “The image he posted created interest in his personal life, including his sexuality. I shared with him that, at present, there is an inconsistency with his beliefs on sexuality and the college’s beliefs.”

The school principal said he hoped that Western Australian society could have a genuine conversation about the issue following the same sex marriage vote last week.

Veteran LGBTI rights campaigner Brian Greig believes it is time for the government to review Western Australia’s exemptions in anti-discrimination laws for religious organisations.

Greig first raised the issue at OUTinPerth’s state election forum in February, noting that it was 15 years since the state government had removed many discriminatory laws via the 2002 ‘gay law reforms’. Greig argued that it was time the laws were reviewed to see how effective they are.

The state government has since confirmed it is seeking legal advice on the clauses that allow schools to expel students, and sack staff because of their sexuality, or the sexuality of their relatives.

Today Brain Greig said the special religious exemptions under the Act were being used to target LGBTI people and must be stopped.

“We are now in the absurd situation where LGBTI staff in private schools will soon be able to legally get married under Federal law, and then legally able to be sacked the next day under State law.” Greig said.

The former federal senator said that Tasmania had abolished its religious exemptions almost 20 years ago, and it was embarrassing that WA had not done the same.

“Private schools rely heavily on public funding and should be made to comply with public expectations and basic anti-discrimination laws.

“Western Australians just gave a resounding Yes! to marriage equality in the national survey, which shows the level of public support for LGBTI people around the state.

“I do not believe the people of Western Australia support this anti-gay loophole or want LGBTI teachers sacked from church schools if they are doing a good job.” Greig said.

Graeme Watson, stock image

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