WhyNot

We all deserve better.

Words by Rhegan, 21 WA

A response to the Citipointe Christian College student enrolment contract. 

Christians don’t believe in bigotry. Bigots pretend to be Christians.

The discrimination of queer people, from television, movies, books, politics, business, workplaces and schools is a constant in our lives. I thought we made it when they legalised gay marriage in Australia back in 2016. Oh, to be so young and naïve. It was a step, a great step, but it has not eradicated homophobia just yet. In fact, the introduction of the Religious Freedom Bill has empowered homophobes to be more vocal about their homophobia.

Recently Citipointe Christian College, a private high school in Brisbane, sent a new enrolment contract to the parents of all students. This document demands all students identify with their birth gender and that all parents accept the schools condemnation of homosexuality as a sin.

“We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including but not limited to; adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, bisexual acts, bestiality, incest, paedophilia, and pornography) is sinful and offensive to God and is destructive to human relationships and society.”

This statement shows the narrow-mindedness and pure bigotry of the school administration and does not belong in our society. Being homosexual, bisexual, transgender or any other identity outside of cis/straight, is not immoral. It is not sinful, nor offensive. What is offensive is imposing homophobic and transphobic rhetoric, wrapped up under the false claim of being a part of the ‘Christian ethos’, onto schools, young people and families.

Parents of students at Citipointe demonstrated how radical the school’s ethos is in an anonymous statement where they shared their own beliefs: “All people are created by God, all are loved and embraced by Christ” and “God loves all people regardless of their sexuality, gender identity, or other characteristics”.

The fact that a high school is so blatant as to outline their offensive and exclusionary rhetoric in a written contract, on paper, for the world to see just demonstrates how much ground we have lost. Examples like this demonstrate to society just how much further we have to go. I found myself reading through the comment sections on post after post, seeing all the excuses people in our country were making to allow an institution to do this.

“People are entitled to their beliefs.”

No. This is not part of a Christian belief system. This is prejudice and hatred.

Christians don’t believe in bigotry. Bigots pretend to be Christians.

Listing homosexuality with such egregious acts as paedophilia and incest is bigotry. Nothing else. Calling it the “freedom to maintain the school’s Christian ethos” doesn’t change this fact. This is not Christian ethos. This is disgusting behaviour that has no place in families, schools or society.

“It’s just one school, it doesn’t affect you.”

Oh, but it does. Because it’s not ‘just one school’, not if the drivers of the upcoming Religious Freedom Bill have anything to say about it. Students at these schools are people too. They are members of this society. They go to these schools, where they are taught that homosexuality is a sin, that being transgender is immoral. They are taught to fear. They are taught to hate.

And then they graduate. And these students go to universities, where they judge and misgender and openly despise LGBT people. They go into the workforce with these so-called ‘beliefs’ and they ensure queer people can no longer feel safe in the spaces they are in. They gain management positions where they use their authority to exercise their ‘good Christian values’ and make queer people feel unwelcome.

Sometimes, they become Prime Minister.

Queer children in these schools have to hide their identity. They feel guilt and shame just for being who they are. Environments like this can have devastating impacts, cause extreme mental distress and put pressure on an already unstable mental health system.

Going through my own journey of discovering my gender identity through my teenage years was hard enough, I was lucky that it flew under the radar. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be for someone who’s actively being told that being queer is a sin, experiencing hate and homophobia. How alone they must feel.

Scott Morrison pledged to protect gay students and staff from discrimination, addressing the Sex Discrimination Act that allows schools to expel students or sack teachers for being gay. Now we all know this man has never told a lie, so I’m sure he’ll make good on his promise. Right Scotty?

“So, choose not to go there”

I don’t know about you, but most of us don’t get to choose what school we go to. Parents make that choice.

What happens when parents share the same beliefs as the school?
What if they agree with these archaic ideas?
What is a closeted young person to do?

Children should feel safe and accepted at school. ALL children should feel safe and accepted at school. ALL STRAIGHT, CISGENDER, QUEER, TRANSGENDER AND SO ON children should feel safe and accepted at school. No further questions.

Listen, Citipointe’s contract may be the hot topic we’re all talking about. But it’s not the only example of gender and sexuality discrimination in this country, not by far.

And the fact that so many things like this have happened, gives us all the more reason to speak up and fight back. We can’t sit idle while piece by piece, our rights and protections are being taken away from us. We can’t ignore this.

The worst atrocities that have happened throughout history didn’t just happen. They creep up, step by step, using precedents just like this one.

Most people are good, great even. But, as a past mentor once told me, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. I am not ready to accept this. So if you, like me, are done with others trying to erase people’s freedom to exist peacefully, support LGBT rights campaigns, call your MP’s, share your voice. And, as always, be loud and queer forever.

UPDATE –As of the 3rd of February 2022.

Citipointe has withdrawn its controversial student enrolment contract, reverting to its original contract. We should be careful about calling this a win. Former Citipointe student Jared Mifsud told ABC News Breakfast about the “underlying sense of discrimination against LGBTQI+ students in the school and (that) this is only happening because of how much the overwhelming response to this has been”.

The language used by the school when withdrawing the contract seemed insincere; “We deeply regret that some students may feel that they were, or would be, discriminated against because of their sexuality or gender identity.” Wording like this places the blame on students and parents, as if they somehow misconstrued the blatant homophobia and deflects the school’s accountability.

They pulled the contract but they still wrote it in the first place. Not only did they write it, but they also doubled down. The administration still believes in these homophobic ideas, they pulled it because of the external pressure, not because they’ve suddenly had a change of heart.

I worry, that even though they have withdrawn their contract, this school will still not hesitate to discriminate against its queer students. Past and current students have already shed light on the discriminatory environment they encountered at this school.

We need to do better. We need to protect our students. We cannot let homophobic rhetoric hide behind religion anymore.

 

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