Words by Laura, 25 NSW
I wrote this poem as a facetious take on Canberra’s latest ‘religious freedoms’ debate, about whether Christian schools should have the right to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ students and teachers on the basis of their sexuality. As someone who was raised Anglican but is also a (mostly) out-and-proud member of the queer community, I often feel as though my faith and my sexuality have to be compartmentalised as two very separate and disharmonious parts of who I am.
Earlier this week, 34 Anglican schools signed an open letter to Parliament* defending their right to discriminate against queer students and staff, and requesting a ‘more general positive right’ for religious freedom. This sends a direct, specific and harmful message to students of those schools – far from upholding the ‘values, ethos and mission’ of the faith, it tells students that they are wrong, immoral and undeserving of support and education.
I wanted to be able to present this contemporary human rights issue in a manner that was both engaging enough to be memorable, and honest enough to make a point. Though it doesn’t claim to encapsulate every religious position on the matter, I really just want to point out the utter ridiculousness of this debate. Being a kid is hard enough without the added distress of having to come to terms with one’s sexuality and then further, being legally excluded from school, education and friends because of it. Come on guys – can’t we all just think of the children?!
Now over the centuries, life has been rough,
For those whom society deemed not straight enough.
There’ve been jailings and hangings and punches and kicks
And last year was non-stop nasty politics.
But we got through the shit and we posted our votes,
Held rainbow flags high and crossed fingers and toes,
Flicked ciggies at pictures of Tony Abbott’s head
And were FINALLY granted equal rights to wed!
But it seems that the world cannot change overnight,
Even after a year, the progress has been slight.
Afraid for their ‘freedoms’, some godly folk say,
“Mount the defences! It’s attack of the gay!”
Now there’s talk down in Canberra of a disturbing kind,
Pushed by pollies with sticks shoved way up their behinds,
The conservative Liberals are at it again,
Putting Catholic beliefs over education.
The law as it stands allows some schools to say,
To people L G B T Q I and A,
That the way that they’re born makes them lesser somehow,
And deny them a place in the class and playground.
Now despite the already existing possibility
Of kids turning gay to escape trigonometry,
These holy crusaders want more legislation,
To further their powers of discrimination.
To this blatant attack on equal human rights,
Our spineless PM said “nah, not my fight.
I don’t really care that Australia said yes,
Why would I risk this job for social progress?”
But enough is enough! We’ve done our time!
It’s been YEARS of het nonsense and normative rhyme!
We’re so over repeats of the same straight white bloke
Sitting in the big chair and just blowing smoke.
So here I stand now, sounding a call to action,
To all who experience non-hetero-attraction,
“Let’s break down the gates of new Parliament House
Move over ScoMo, let the queers sort it out!”
*The open letter from the Anglican Diocese can be found here. If you are a current/former student or parent associated with any of the schools who signed it, I encourage you to sign the open letter in response that has been organised by Max Loomes of St Luke’s Grammar School.