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Schools could soon have the right to prevent gay and transgender students and teachers from attending their facilities according to a recent review into religious freedom.

The government ordered the review to be conducted after same-sex marriage became legal in December last year. This was put in place to appease conservative MPs and religious communities, who expressed concern that their right to act in accordance with their beliefs would be marred by marriage equality.

However the results of the report are likely to be of grave concern of the LGBTI community about the treatment of gay students and teachers.

Religious Schools Can Discriminate Against ‘Undesirable’ Students

As reported by Fairfax Media, the report calls for the federal Sex Discrimination Act to be changed to allow religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.

“There is a wide variety of religious schools in Australia and … to some school communities, cultivating an environment and ethos which conforms to their religious beliefs is of paramount importance,” the report said.

“To the extent that this can be done in the context of appropriate safeguards for the rights and mental health of the child, the panel accepts their right to select, or preference, students who uphold the religious convictions of that school community.”

The report noted that any further amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act should only apply to new enrolments. The school would also have to have a publicly available policy outlining its position, and should regard the best interests of the child as the “primary consideration of its conduct”.

Gay Teachers May Not Be Able To Teach At Religious Schools

The review, carried out by a panel chaired by former attorney-general Philip Ruddock, also mentioned that
religious schools should be able to discriminate in the hiring of teachers on the basis of religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.

The review, carried out by a panel chaired by former attorney-general Philip Ruddock, rejected the notion that businesses should be allowed to refuse customers on a religious basis as it would ‘unnecessarily encroach on other human rights’ and ‘may cause significant harm to vulnerable groups’.

The panel concluded that civil celebrants should not be able to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages and that businesses should NOT be allowed to refuse customers on a religious basis as it would ‘unnecessarily encroach on other human rights’ and ‘may cause significant harm to vulnerable groups’.

We Will Protect Religious Freedom

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement: “Our government will consider the details and release our response after it has gone through a proper cabinet process.”

“We will protect religious freedom, and get the balance right,” he said. “Each proposal will be considered carefully and respectfully before any final decisions are taken.”

‘At the end of the day, if you’re not free to believe in your own faith, well, you’re not free,’ Mr Morrison told Fairfax Media.

‘Just because things haven’t been a problem in the past doesn’t mean they won’t be a problem in the future.’

Mr Morrison clarified that the religious freedom review “is an independent report to government, not a report from government” and was the product of community consultation.

News.com.au spoke to Rodney Croome, marriage equality advocate and spokesman for campaign group Just Equal, who said any school that took public money shouldn’t be free to ban gay teachers or students.

“The Ruddock inquiry recommendations are direct and shameful assault on the dignity and equality of LGBTI people and we will oppose their implementation tooth and nail.

“Schools should be places of learning, not breeding grounds of prejudice.”

Would this be a good or bad move? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

  • I’d be interested to know how they manage this as there would be signs an adult can identify that children themselves may not, it’s a sensitive issue and would need caution with discussing it. Sad that a minority group gets isolated.

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  • Why should children have to reveal their gender preference when enrolling in a school? Don’t tell and no one will know

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  • All the child wants is an education.

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  • This is really hard to fight, I wouldn’t send my child to a religious school necessarily

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  • Keep the kids away from these bigoted schools. They can get a better education somewhere else, somewhere they can be themselves and feel safe.

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  • I reckon these students are better off far far away from these places anyway. They need a supportive environment where they are actually treated like people. Not surrounded by judgment and constantly told they are some kind of mistake. They cause all sorts of horrible damage to children it all kinds of ways.

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  • Not all Private Schools are unisex. Some have been Boys Schools, others Girls Schools since the 1950s, possibly even earlier. Those wouldn’t have facilities such as toilets for both sexes etc.

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  • If everyone is expected to accept gay marriage and transgender, why should others not have to accept religious beliefs against it? Now it is those who hold a view against gay marriage that are discriminated against.
    You can’t say you want gay acceptance but not be prepared to accept others religious beliefs and faith!!

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  • It’s a fine line with this and then what? The colour of someone’s skin…

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  • So the general public can’t discriminate against gay people, but schools can? Double standard there! But there are lots of schools to choose from. And how will these schools know who’s gay and who’s not? It will be difficult to police

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  • This is a bad move. No school should be able to discriminate against race or sexuality. However, I agree, that is a school does, it’s certainly not one that you’d want to send your child to.

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  • There is no way any government could make decisions to keep every person/opinion/group happy and included. There will never be a time when everyone will agree exactly on all matters or feel included, not threatened or not discriminated against and it is the same for both parties in this matter. It’s a catch 22

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  • Just like we are expected to accept gays and transgender then it’s the same for respecting religious beliefs of others including religious school .. these sensitive issues take time to resolve themselves but we need to respectful to all parties..

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  • With statistics showing that a good percentage of children are/will be gay then no religious school is without gay students. The children themselves most probably don’t know what gender preference they’ll associate with at this stage of their childhood.

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  • This is what you would expect from a neoliberalism oligarchy government. Please don’t vote this Government back in, expect more of control, control, control if you don’t vote them out.

    Reply

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