Teacher’s union calls on Christian College to drop its discriminatory policy

Union calls on College to remove its discriminatory contract for students and staff

The union representing over 17,000 teachers and staff in Queensland non-government schools has called on Citipointe Christian College to meet its responsibilities under the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act and ensure no student at the College is discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or sexuality.

Independent Education Union – Queensland and Northern Territory (IEU-QNT) Branch Secretary Terry Burke echoed comments by the Queensland Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall and called on the College not to use contracts to avoid their responsibilities under anti-discrimination law.

Burke said the Act does not permit religious schools to refuse enrolment on the basis of gender identity or sexuality, or to discriminate against existing students on this basis.

“This means if the College were to expel, discipline or otherwise treat a student unfavourably because of these characteristics, this would be unlawful discrimination in Queensland,” Burke said.

“Trying to avoid anti-discrimination laws by asking parents and/or students to agree to discriminatory terms in a ‘contract’ is beyond shameful and rejected by our union.

“The IEU has long campaigned for anti-discrimination protections within legislation and has advocated for further protections within current state legislation.

“Our union believes practices in faith-based schools, and indeed in any endeavour by faith-based organisations which is conducted for and funded by the public, should reflect community standards and expectations,” Burke said.

Ahead of the new school term parents who have students enrolled at the Brisbane Christian school were asked to sign a new contract that outlined their commitment to the school’s religious values. Among it’s clauses were descriptions that declared children must align with their biological gender and claims that homosexuality and bisexuality are sinful, offensive and destructive to relationships ans society. Homosexuality and bisexuality were listed alongside adultery, fornication, incest, pedophilia and pornography.

Human Rights Commissioner says discrimination is unlawful

Scott McDougall, the Queensland Human Rights Commisisoner, says schools can nt bypass the state’s discrimination laws getting parents to sign a contract.

“Schools cannot contract out of their duties under discrimination laws by asking parents or students to agree to discriminatory terms,” McDougall said.

McDougal said the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act does not permit religious schools to refuse enrolment based on gender identity or sexuality, or discriminate against existing students.

“Expelling, disciplining or otherwise treating a student unfavourably because of these characteristics is unlawful discrimination in Queensland.

“A school policy that requires a trans or gender diverse young person to be treated as their sex assigned at birth, or that requires a young person to hide or deny their sexuality, is likely to amount to unlawful discrimination.”

Queensland Education Minister says policy is unacceptable

Queensland’s Education Minister, Grace Grace, has encouraged people who experience discrimination from the college to report it to the Human Rights Commission.

“I think this is unacceptable. Every student deserves to feel accepted and supported at school. The ‘values’ laid out in this document don’t seem very Christian to me.” Grace said.

“I’ve raised the issue with the Attorney General around anti-discrimination laws, and I’d encourage parents, carers, or students at the school to report this to the Human Rights Commission.”

Petition collects over 100,000 signatories

A petition at Change.org calling out the school’s policy has now attracted over 107,000 signatures.  Among the comments left by signatories are many people noting that they themselves are Christians, but the school’s stance, in their view, did not show Christian values.

Graeme Watson

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